Developing an integrated visitor management security system

Laptop on desk

We live in fearful times. Terrorist threats, cyber-attacks, Trojan horses, earthquakes, floods, not to mention the unpredictable nature of society in general. It can all be a little overwhelming.

The endless stream of information and utility that technology provides can easily evoke a knee-jerk reaction in even the most level-headed facility or IT manager when deciding how to keep an organization’s premises, staff, and data safe.

On top of having to guard against these imminent security threats, regulatory bodies have set down stringent compliance measures that industries must adhere to. This includes protecting users who seem to blindly entrust companies with their private data. According to a USA Today article, ineffective data security practices have led to billions of users’ confidential information being breached by malicious hackers in 2018 alone.

Are we allowing the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing into our business and data because of disjointed and aging security tools and processes? If prevention is better than cure, then building a moat around every campus, using typewriters and enlisting the services of armed stagecoaches to communicate with the outside world would be the safest option for managing visitors. But the sanest?

It would be to the utter detriment of an organization’s image to have overly invasive security measures dictate every inch of operations. But, “better the devil you know,” one might conclude.

The development of an effective visitor management solution lagged behind the digitization of so many other business areas. The paper logbook was synonymous with security and reception desks until very recently. It functioned as an unreliable record of everyone who is and had been on a business’ premises. That is, if the visitor entered their true details, or whether they bothered to do so at all.

When there was an urgent need for businesses to know and remember who gained access to their premises, cloud-based visitor management systems (VMS) stepped onto the scene to answer the call. VMS was introduced into lobbies and reception areas in the form of self-check-in iPads. Its initial purpose quickly grew beyond just automating laborious visitor management tasks. It offers consolidated records of visitor information that is instantly accessible from a central platform.

The category was quickly characterized by rapid technological advancement in its efforts to provide complex, scalable solutions to a variety of industries. The urgent demand for matching operational functionality saw regular feature roll-outs enabled by its cloud-based character.

For the most part, strategic system features evolved from common and urgent needs required by early adopters of the technology. In a couple of years, a persistent need for greater security features and integration with businesses’ existing software saw an almost exponential increase of service providers and functionality.

Starting out being nowhere near perfect and more of a novelty, a number of next-gen features were introduced to help companies:

  • sustain business continuity
  • increase their emergency preparedness
  • meet complex regulatory compliance requirements easily.

In developing solutions for these most urgent security and compliance requirements, weaknesses were exposed in the tools and processes companies used to properly vet their guests.

Capturing vast stores of confidential visitor information gave rise to serious questions on what security to expect from VMS providers entrusted with storing this valuable data.

To gain an understanding of how next-gen features provide solutions to stop the wolf in its tracks before it can enter facilities or breach data vaults, it’s best to take a step back and look at how current features paved the way for these enhancements.

Continue reading: FMJ May/June Edition