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Automated visitor management creates a safe and welcoming environment

Automated visitor management creates a safe and welcoming environment

Article by Ian Holmes, HID Extended Access Technologies’ business development manager – identity & security, Ian Holmes.

How can organisations create safe workplaces that people love to work in?

Many people believe that visitor management systems are the solution. Visitors management systems are becoming more common as part of facility management strategies in government buildings, schools, and hospitals.

These systems, when combined with self-service technology make a significant first step in a visitor’s journey. They offer a pleasant, frictionless experience for employees, contractors, and customers.

Safety first — the problem of human error

Yesterday’s reception areas relied entirely on human power. The visitor would enter the building, then proceed to security or a reception desk. There they would tell the attendant or receptionist their purpose for visiting and provide identification. The attendant would then verify that the visitor is a building occupant and enter the visitor’s information into a system to create a visitor card.  

Humans are susceptible to error. Humans are prone to error. Information can be entered incorrectly, it is possible for the building employee to be difficult or unexpected. There is the possibility that dozens of visitors could arrive at once and each person will need access to different areas. A security attendant or receptionist could easily become overwhelmed.

They are expected to keep track of visitor schedules and be able to spot fraudulent IDs from other states and countries. It is easy to see how an individual could get access to the wrong area, or be allowed to enter a place that should only be accessible to contractors and employees.

Automating for a warm and secure welcome

Automated visitor systems, on the contrary, eliminate user error and make it easier for staff and visitors to feel more secure. Advanced self-service systems allow visitors the ability to register at multiple kiosks, rather than waiting for security personnel.

Modern kiosks offer a document reader, which scans a credential to verify their visit. It then scans their identification according to the level of security required.

It speeds up the registration process by removing the need to manually enter information into a security software. The staff at reception can then better serve visitors and staff.

From documents to data tokens — understanding credentials

The document, card or data token we refer to as “credentials” is typically a document, card or token that an individual receives from a third party to allow them to access the premises. These credentials could include a visitor badge or a digital QR code (2D-barcode) or government-issued IDs like passports or driving licences.

After a visitor registers, one or more tokens or credentials can be used to navigate the building. This includes a final check-out before leaving the site — a crucial last step for fire safety and contact tracing purposes.

Government-issued IDs are also useful for enrolment of visitors in data centres, schools, or government buildings. This will allow them to gain access to secure areas on-premises.

Common Types Of Credentials

Let’s look at some of the common credentials that visitor management systems can process.

  • QR codes– Very fast decoding, low cost, user familiarity
  • RFID cards and tagsHigh security encryption and programming, reprogrammable, contactless technology.
  • Government-issued IDs– Automatic enrolment using personal information, highest level of assurance. Allows facial recognition technology to be used

Understanding Readers

After a visitor has registered and been issued an ID document, the data token or ID document must be accessed at entry point. These readers are often placed at a reception desk, or attached to an unattended kiosk that allows for the printing of badges or issuing access cards.

Many readers are connected via USB to a host computer with access control or visitor management software. Embedded computing, IoT technology, and Internet of Things (IoT), allow highly capable devices and services to communicate directly via local area networks with a server and cloud service. This allows for easy deployments and integration. IoT-ready devices are used in airports and public transport networks to enhance passenger experience and flow.

The best visitor management software can accept any credential an organisation currently uses. Multiple security systems may be used in a building that houses multiple tenants.

One company attaches a QR Code to the meeting invitation; the visitor will scan the code at the kiosk when they arrive. Another company may request that visitors arrive and register at the enrolment kiosk to scan their Drivers Licences or National ID cards.

Security requirements can vary depending on the type of visitor. Interview attendees pose a lower threat to contractors than interview attendees, so credentials should reflect this.

An organisation may want to issue the prospective employee a temporary code that can be read from their phone, or printed out upon arrival on site. It is prudent to enroll contractors using their government-issued ID, since they will have access only to certain areas.

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Ideally, both the temporary code and the government ID can easily be read and verified on one device.

Capture data quickly and accurately

Multi-modal devices like the ATOM identity reader allow organisations to automatically capture personal data and barcodes as well as high-resolution images of the ID presented.

Advanced optical character recognition technology can automatically read the ID and send it to the visitor management software. This will allow personal data such address, document number, and name to be extracted. This data can be used to enrol new visitors or cross-check with pre-registered employees or visitors.

Images of an ID can be captured using multiple wavelengths, including ultraviolet, white, infrared, and ultraviolet to expose the printed security elements. This allows for automatic authentication.

There are many authentication methods that can be used to verify the authenticity of a document, including UV pattern matching, optically variable inks and cross-checking personal information in the machine-readable zone and visual inspection zone. 

A facial image taken from the document data page, or biometric chip, can be used to perform a 1-to-1 face matching with a live image. This will provide additional assurance for self-service or partially attended application.

This allows a visitor management system, which can read multiple national IDs, barcodes and RFID cards on one device, to accommodate a wider range of visitors.

The future of visitor management begins now

Global trade & cultural interchange is making the world ever more connected. Organisations and workplaces are evolving at an unprecedented pace, moving from being national entities to becoming international. The systems that manage the many people who visit a site must be as flexible as the organisations that employ them.

Multi-modal devices provide a simple, single touchpoint for all types of visitors across an entire global organisation for a safer — and simpler — world.

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