Why Your Facility Needs a Visitor Management System

Jan. 9, 2006
Four reasons to consider strengthening security

The world has changed.
Workplace violence, industrial espionage, and terrorism threaten personnel and property security. When facility entrances aren’t secure, companies are vulnerable - and liable. For example:

  • A suspect walked into an FBI office and fatally shot three agents. A jury, determining the facility should have had a better visitor sign-in system, awarded $1.7 million to the husband of a victim.
  • Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, reportedly conducted walkthroughs of the building’s ground floor before the attack.
  • A jury awarded $10 million against a security firm that supplied a lobby guard who did nothing while loiterers harassed a tenant and shot him six times.

A visitor management system with software tools, ID validation, physical barriers, and a well-designed lobby can keep the wrong people out and let the right people in efficiently.

Lobbies are your first defense.
“The lobby is the single-most important security point in any building or facility where protection of personnel and property is paramount,” says Richard Grassie, a Certified Protection Professional and president of TECHMARK Security Integration Inc., Rockland, MD. “Security around visitor management has to be nearly flawless.”

Grassie says that lobby systems must support security physically, electronically, and procedurally. Visitor management systems should:

  • Accurately and quickly capture visitors’ pictures, signatures, business cards, and driver’s license information.
  • Authenticate ID or credentials.
  • Perform security checks using watch lists.
  • Create one-time-use visitor badges featuring photos, names, affiliations, host names, and authorized areas of access, as well as expiration times.
  • Allow employees to register visitors online in advance - and be notified electronically or by phone when they arrive.

Digital trumps paper for security.
“A digital system provides an audit trail that’s easy to create and access,” says Orchid. When facilities rely on logbooks, reusable visitor badges, and security guards, security breaches are more likely:

  • Information in logbooks can be illegible or false, creating an inaccurate record of visitors - and no warning that they aren’t who they say they are.
  • Competitors, hackers, and suppliers can read them and gain confidential information.
  • Visitors can neglect to sign out and return badges; unauthorized visitors can use unreturned badges to infiltrate facilities and gain access to employees, restricted areas, equipment, compounds, or proprietary data.

Visitor management already works.

  • A paper company installed a visitor management system to maintain security at its facility during renovation. The system verified contractors’ identities, tracked comings and goings, and alerted them when they were due for safety training.
  • At a data storage center, a system streamlined entry for employees, contractors, and others, enabling the facility to watch out for unwelcome visitors.
  • A major airport upgraded its office visitor management to an automated system. During the airport’s expansion, it managed the influx of consultants, contractors, and vendors, and kept the airport secure.

Cindy Downing is national sales manager for Honeywell’s LobbyWorks™ Visitor Manager System at Oak Creek, WI-based Honeywell Systems Group. More information is available at (www.honeywellaccess.com).

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