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Seguridad Corporativa y Protección del Patrimonio.
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Revista de Prensa: Noticias

Jueves, 17 de enero de 2008

The Business of Knowing

New visitor management techniques unify disparate security systems


You’ve all seen that guy in the hallway: that unfamiliar face. “He must be the new guy.” “He must be here for a meeting.” “Isn’t he Jane’s husband?” “He probably works for facility management.”

In too many cases, employee simply do not know who or why that person is wandering around the premises.

“High-security corporations providing services to the government, hospitals, nursing homes and correctional facilities need to track who is on their premises. They need to see trends. They need to know when an employee is terminated, who had been visiting that employee. Even schools need to know who is coming and going and who, by court rule, is allowed contact with the children and, most importantly, who isn’t,” said Bob Mann of SmartTech ID. “All too often, we see those organizations still using log books, relying on pen and paper to account for their visitor activities.”

The Log Book
For a long time, the log book at the reception desk has been the sole method of visitor tracking. Visitors enter, sign in and proceed into the building. Sometimes the process is accompanied by an identification check. The visitor may be issued a handwritten badge.

Although they are a low-cost solution requiring no configuration and minimal training, log books have serious shortcomings. The most significant are the inability to deliver historical information in a timely manner, enable a fast registration process, conduct thorough background checks and cross reference across multiple locations. Additionally, hand-written name badges may easily be transferred from one person to another.

It is frightening to know that even today the log book approach is often the sole source of visitor management, even at many key defense contracting facilities.

Without the ability to produce reports or disseminate critical information instantaneously, the log book leaves a corporation and its employees vulnerable. Imagine having to rely on a paper log book to track employees and visitors in an emergency situation, when time is of the utmost importance.

The Rise of Visitor Management
In 1997, computer-based visitor systems emerged onto the market that effectively turned the log book electronic. Moving from paper to digital format has eliminated many shortcomings. Queries may be run to produce reports on visitors’ activity with faster results. ID scanners have been employed to facilitate fast registration and verification. Watch lists are used to check visitors against a list of known offenders and threats. Badging systems permit images to be posted on name badges, preventing transferability. Networking has enabled multiple locations to share information and provide organization-wide reporting.

This basic visitor methodology has been cloned many times over by various security product organizations. The root of this fundamental design, however, remains the log book. That is, a closed data system for registering people at entry—something not all that different from pen and paper, though much more manageable.

Visitor management, for the most part, is yet another independent security system along with CCTV, access control, photo ID and asset tracking. Do these types of independent systems make sense? Looking at government intelligence prior to Sept. 11, 2001, customers saw dozens of security agencies that were collecting data independently. The old adage “a lot of data, but no information” certainly held true when it really mattered.

The disparate nature of corporate security systems leaves organizations with similar vulnerabilities. If only they could share information.

Loss of Efficiency
These closed data systems do not only present problems for security. A key issue for many organizations is maximizing efficiency. With the daily entry of full-time employees, contractors, temporary employees and visitors, it is imperative that a company can not only badge and register each of these groups quickly and in an organized manner, but also can retrieve information about them efficiently.

With isolated systems, however, this can be a cumbersome process. Often, each group’s information is kept in its own database, but these systems do not allow access to multiple databases simultaneously. In order to access the information for each database, they must be combined into a single master database. This solution is a poor one, leading to tedious management processes and often the loss of relevant information.

By having an internal database that is tied to the company databases, management becomes complex and unreliable. These systems require extensive field mapping, making changes difficult and allowing many opportunities for error. One glaring issue is that an update may not properly translate to all relevant databases. Errors like this are easy to miss and can breed confusion and a loss of productivity.

Furthermore, each group often has unique requirements for information and access points. In most programs, there may be a few groups, but they are often locked in format. This means that it is impossible or extremely difficult to add fields relevant to each organization and group.

Manufacturers decide and provide what they feel is relevant based on their research. In reality, each company is different in setup, procedure, traffic flow and information needed. Without knowledge of an organization’s requirements, a platform without extensive customization capability is insufficient.

The Next Giant Step
Now, 10 years since the inception of the visitor management system, a new player has emerged on the scene, taking another giant step in perimeter security. Incorporating integration into many data-existing information systems simultaneously, Jolly Technologies’ Lobby Track uses open-data architecture that allows for rapid access to multiple data systems at the click of a button.

“We realized that visitor security goes far beyond those people that take the visitor parking spots,” said Sandeep Jolly, president of Jolly Technologies. “It needs to encompass the cleaning crews, maintenance workers, contractors, temporary employees and many other people that traverse a facility on a regular basis. It needs to incorporate their existing information sources. It should include equipment and packages. And, most importantly, it needs to work in conjunction with existing systems.

“We have taken a very broad view of the visitor,” Jolly said. “It should even include the employee in many environments. We’ve created an architecture that permits multiple live simultaneous data connections and augmented it with data importing, data lookups, directory lookups and free-form data layout that allow for many disparate systems to be united in some very effective ways with centralized logs and reporting.”

By further encompassing secure photo ID, live connectivity to access control systems, time and attendance calculations, and visitor management into a single product, Lobby Track has moved visitor management from a standalone component to a unifying security system.

“We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg as to what visitor management systems can do,” Mann said. “Systems that include time and attendance, package tracking, photo ID production, equipment labeling and tracking, trend analysis and centralized data management go a long way toward bridging the gap between where we are now and where we need to be.”


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