Best practices for deploying visitor management systems

A four-step guide for school security managers


In today’s environment, every school needs to take steps to protect students, administrators, teachers and other guests from unwanted visitors. That’s why visitor management techniques are often a high priority at most schools.

Professional and secure visitor management involves more than simply having guests sign in using a paper visitor log book. Although many view a paper visitor log in as being quick and easy, it is fraught with many security problems and diminishes the professionalism of the school.

Among some of the benefits of using a visitor management systems include; screening visitors against sex offender databases; monitoring who has custodial responsibility for students; keeping track of students that are allowed to leave school grounds; and, the ability to record time and attendance of volunteers and other staff members.

If your school uses an access control system to limit access to specific areas of the school, you are able to use visitor management software to provide temporary card access to guests, contractors, or other individuals directly from the visitor system without the need to interact with the security system. This allows those individuals access to controlled areas without the need to be escorted by an employee.

Visitor software typically resides on a PC at the lobby reception desk or other points of entry. The software automates the entire process of registering a visitor, gathering necessary visitor information, screening the visitor against internal and/or external watch lists, and creating a visitor badge. Here are the major steps in the process:

Step 1: Scan each visitor’s ID.

This involves the use of a scanner, either an optical character recognition (OCR) scanner or one that can read the magnetic stripe or 2-D barcode on the back of a driver’s license. The benefit of scanning a driver’s license is that it captures information on the license such as the name. With an optical scan you can also capture the photo of the visitor from the license and include it on a visitor badge.

Step 2: Capture other information as needed.

Not all information can be gleaned from a scan of a visitor’s ID. You may want to designate a purpose of their visit, the person they are visiting with, or any other type of information. Much of this additional information can be entered with drop-down menus or check boxes in the visitor software.

Step 3: Print a customized visitor badge.

Identify all visitors to a school by requiring that they wear a visitor badge that is produced with the information you scanned or captured during their check in. You can create a different style for different categories of visitors to enable your staff to easily tell the difference between a volunteer, a contractor, or a parent.

Step 4: Analyze visitor data.

By using a report wizard in a visitor system, you can generate customized reports and store and disseminate report data instantly. This allows you to spot trends and operational areas that might need to be addressed or improved. Visitor management systems do not contribute to a cumbersome or time-consuming visitor check in process. In many ways, they streamline it, while, most importantly, improving the security and safety of your students and staff.

About the Author: John Murzycki is director of marketing for EasyLobby, an HID Global business, which provides comprehensive visitor registration and badge printing solutions to K-12 schools.