Visitor management systems today are much more than just a name tag or a phone call. The most sophisticated ones can integrate with police databases, along with a host of other security systems, and automatically time out at a user-specified date or time of day. But even the “simple” systems do more than just token security. By cross-checking with departments and having someone actually greet and take information from the visitor, incidents can be averted and crimes of opportunity cut way down.

Such was the case at two end users’ facilities SDM spoke with recently. One system is high-tech and the other low-tech, but both had real-life, practical successes using their visitor management systems.

Software Company Keeps out Unwanted Visitors

PTC, Needham, Mass., is an engineering software company with approximately 5,600 employees. As a technology company, John O’Brien, global security manager, felt its visitor management system should reflect that.

“When I started here in late 2004 we were a software company but we had paper visitor logs. I wanted to keep this company up-to-date and have higher technology for visitors as well.”

PTC chose a system from Easy Lobby, Needham, Mass., that integrates with the C-Cure access control system and creates both paper visitor badges and temporary contractor or employee badges that automatically shut off at the end of the day. While the Easy Lobby system is capable of integrating with external databases, so far PTC primarily uses it for internal databases such as access control. It includes a business card scanner and has the ability to scan driver’s licenses.

The visitor management system has proven itself several times since its installation, O’Brien says.

As a software company, intellectual property or technology theft is a constant worry. So when PTC had a situation where someone tried to use one of the expired visitor badges to get in, the “visitor” was stopped by the system.

The system also stopped a potentially violent situation. An employee took out a restraining order on her spouse and also put him on a watch list at work through the visitor management system. When the spouse tried to check in at the front desk, security was called and he was escorted off the premises. “There was definitely the potential for workplace violence there,” O’Brien says. “When someone is angry and knows they are not supposed to be someplace but trying to get in anyway, the potential for an incident is high.”

The visitor management system also helps PTC track packages outside of regular shipping hours.

When someone comes in to drop off a package before or after shipping hours, they have to go through the front desk and the visitor management system, which also tracks who picks the package up.


Hospital & Medical Center Starts with Paper Badges

St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Hartford, Conn., began using a visitor management system two years ago after having several thefts from one of its medical office buildings.

With about 6,000 employees, the 550-bed hospital is located in the inner city and was subject to the typical issues of that environment. Besides the thefts, there were situations on the floors with unwanted visitors, as well as people wandering in the hospital without a reason to be there. Still, Jack Mayoros, director of security, knew the importance of keeping an open campus environment, especially during the day.

The sheer volume of visitors to the medical center put a high-tech visitor badging system out of reach financially at the time. But Mayoros remembered something he read once about Walmart greeters: “If you engage a person and look them in the eye, they are more reluctant to steal from you.”

With that in mind, Mayoros looked to Visitor Pass Solutions, by Data Management Inc., Farmington, Conn., for a workable and affordable solution. Initially they chose a paper badge with an expiring feature that would display the word “VOID” after 24 hours, but the hospital eventually realized this was still too costly. So they chose a different solution from the same company that has the day of the week clearly printed on it, along with a customized logo. Both systems work essentially the same, he explains, and they have seen no difference in security by using the more affordable solution.

In fact both solutions have shown their usefulness in several ways over the past two years. “At our medical office building now, visitors have to stop at the security desk, produce an ID and get a visitor badge,” Mayoros says. “Our thefts went from probably two per month to zero after we instituted this system.”

At the hospital itself, daytime visitors are not required to get a visitor pass. But at 8:00 p.m., the hospital shifts to bringing people in through only two entrances: emergency room and main entrance, both of which have a visitor management system. “Because of our open policy we often find people wandering around after hours, or sleeping here,” Mayoros says. “With the visitor management system in place, officers on patrol can now immediately spot those who have checked in after-hours and have a badge and those who haven’t.”

The badge also shows where the person is supposed to be, the day of the week and the visitor’s name. Before giving the visitor an after-hours pass, staff calls the nursing staff on the floor to make sure the patient is there and the visitor is authorized to come up.

Mayoros adds that although the visitor management system is low-tech it still provides a high level of security and many of the benefits of the higher-end systems.

“A lot of people are looking at visitor management systems to tighten up their security now because of what is going on around the world,” he says. “They may be holding off because of cost. The best systems are going to cost you a lot of money. But rather than hold off and do nothing, the paper solution is still fantastic. It tightens security and also gives staff and personnel the basic idea of what the visitor pass is. If you are able to allocate money later for a full-blown picture ID system and all of that, the staff is already in tune with what is happening. You are gaining an education of staff and visitors and getting a real bang for your buck.”

Visitor Management Solution Vendors

Trying to solve a client’s visitor problem? Look no further — these manufacturers offer a wide variety of visitor management systems.

Brady ID
Continental Access
Easy Lobby
Evolis Inc.
HID Global
Honeywell Systems Group
Keyscan Inc.
Ultra Electronics Magicard
Visitor Pass Solutions, by Data Management Inc.