Making tracks: keeping track of visitors to facilities
Security now has to be top of mind for every facility manager, no matter where they work. And one of the most important things a security conscious FM must do is be aware of exactly who is in or on the premises at all times. Stephen Darracott explains what to look out for when installing a system to manage visitor and employee traffic in any building.
Security isn’t the only element to bear in mind, however. Increasingly, OH&S issues require that facilities managers have a constant record of who is on the premises, exactly where they are in those premises, who they are visiting and what they are doing while they’re there. This applies to various facilities and organisations, but particularly schools, colleges and other educational facilities, government agencies, correctional facilities, corporations, hospitals and clinics, real estate management and event management.
While there still are buildings and venues in these categories that rely on a good old-fashioned pen and sign-in book, most facilities now employ somewhat more sophisticated systems for tracking visitors and employee traffic. But even many contemporary systems can cause delays and confusion as visitors, unfamiliar with the system, struggle to navigate its user interface. How many times have you seen people rushing to get to a meeting, only to be held up by an overly complicated sign-in system or finding their fingers turn to thumbs as they attempt to type in their name on an unhelpful vertical glass screen?
Or perhaps you’ve seen groups of people milling about an entrance, not quite sure what to do and waiting for a receptionist or other representative to come and enlighten them.
The best digital visitor management systems are simple and intuitive to use, and ensure a smooth flow of people with the right credentials through the building. And such systems can be operated by visitors without any staff involvement.
They can do all this by ticking off such useful features as an integrated webcam, an integrated badge printer and an address book with predictive-like key strokes – to prevent those aforementioned all-thumbs typists from taking 10 minutes to simply enter the building.
An interactive self-serve terminal also enables visitors to cut out the middleman, allowing them to notify relevant parties of their arrival swiftly and seamlessly, saving time and other resources. A notification feature will alert employees about a visitor’s arrival via email or SMS. And the most sophisticated systems, such as LobbyTrac, can even send check-in information to visitors ahead of time, making the scheduling of groups and special events a hassle- free and smooth process.
The terminal’s presence needs to be immediately apparent to visitors, so think carefully about its position in the lobby or reception area. And ensure it has a large LCD touchscreen. It must also be sturdy and resilient. When you consider the number of people using the equipment every day, a heavy-duty pedestal unit and reliable large, bright screen with simple and clear instructions and graphics are vital. At the same time, a sleek and modern design will require minimal space for installation.
Such a screen also provides a good opportunity for branding collateral. Are you able to customise your screen with graphics and messaging appropriate for your facility or company?
Has your system provider thought through all of the little details too? Such as where any security badges will be disposed of when the visitor is leaving the facility? An internal badge disposal chute ensures an uncluttered experience and that no litter will be left lying around the entry area.
A truly seamless solution not only makes the sign in/sign out process simple and intuitive, but will also capture and store all the pertinent information about every visitor in a secure database, enabling real-time reporting and greatly enhancing existing security processes. The aforementioned LobbyTrac was developed with all of these considerations in mind.
It provides an easy-to-use touchscreen interface for users to sign in and an intuitive self-paced workflow to guide them through the relevant fields, in order to easily enter their credentials. Plus there are step-by-step visual cues and graphics to assist visitors through the process.
LobbyTrac also offers a range of specific features, including:
- optional cloud hosting
- optional multiple terminals
- the ability to manage terminals: turn on/off (camera and signature)
- offline terminal message
- terminal name and label count background image
- email entry notifications
- event set-up and pre-booking
- active directory set-up
- SMS support (though carrier charges may apply)
- screen configuration/input fields
- staff dashboard notes
- entry alerts system
- the ability to manage administration users
- visitor records for export, and
- help/support (email administration).
As we all know, you only get one chance to make a first impression. If you want a visitor’s first impression of your facility to be the best imaginable, make it easy for them to safely and securely navigate your sign-in system and alert the relevant employees to their presence as soon as they arrive. A smooth and painless experience will be appreciated by all concerned. They’ll know they’re welcome and you’ll know when they arrive, who they are, where they’re going and when they leave.
Stephen Darracott is the general manager of Pitney Bowes, SMB Australia and New Zealand.
This article also appears in the April/May issue of Facility Management magazine.