Visitors are a risk. Historically, the risks were theft and accidental injury. Today, active assailant events are a risk as well. No organization is an exception. Schools, houses of worship, factories, and office buildings should all be concerned. And they should all be protected.
Visitor management usually fits under one of two extreme opinions: let no one in or let everyone in. The reality is that neither of those options accommodate the operational plan of most organizations.
Vetting Visitors in Advance
Visitors can be vetted prior to their arrival. Administrators and security departments can evaluate the visitor and their reasons for visiting. In many cases, this information can be compared to internal, local, or national watch lists.
Vetting at the Door
When a visitor arrives without prior vetting, there’s no way to know who’s walking through the front door. In this case, the organization must decide where and how to safely vet the visitor. Should the vetting be done outside of the building using an intercom with video verification? Should the visitor be allowed into a locked vestibule for verification out of the elements?
The vetting area becomes a potential threat zone, and this must be considered when evaluating risk.
Technology considerations may include:
- Video surveillance
- Voice communication
- Door locking hardware
- Access control software
- Intrusion detection hardware and software
- Visitor management software
- Full-height metal detectors
Video surveillance can show the entry area and identify the visitor. This view can ensure that no one is under duress while trying to gain access.
Voice communication allows staff to communicate with the visitor from a secure area.
Door locking hardware is operated with a software interface. The process is automatic for authorized card holders and manually operated for visitor vetting situations.
Access control software maintains the authorized employee and visitor list and allows cardholders to move freely through specific areas while preventing unauthorized entries.
Intrusion detection devices and control panels monitor the status of doors, windows, and a variety of other sensors. They generate an alert when a sensor is not within normal operational parameters, such as a propped door.
Visitor management software systems can assist in logging past visitors and storing newly acquired information for new visitors.
Full-height metal detectors can be used to verify that no weapons are entering the facility.
Another critical—and often overlooked—risk lies beyond the main entrance. Emergency exits and secondary doors are entry targets for an unauthorized visitor. Various software and door hardware options can monitor door statuses and provide an alert when a door has been left open too long. Propped doors may be monitored, but piggybacking prevention is always the responsibility of every staff member to ensure safety.
The Right Partner
The goal of a security assessment and site survey is to help understand where potential threats may exist at schools, buildings, and campuses of all sizes. Ultimately, these solutions can help integrate a variety of technologies as part of a plan that works in unison to help secure occupants, protect valuable assets, and assist in preventing physical access to sensitive areas.
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