How do visitor management systems benefit schools and universities?
By Deepak Gulgulia, co-founder and CEO of Spectra
Among the growing range of application areas of access control, one of the emerging sectors is educational institutions. While biometric access control is still something a lot of countries consider a privileged facility, schools and universities seem to be towards the bottom of the list when it comes to implementing such tech-driven systems to boost security. Even less prioritized is the need for visitor management systems in educational institutions.
There is a plethora of benefits this specific access control solution has to offer that has been consistently overlooked. In this article, you will read about:
- The utility and application areas of visitor management in educational institutions
- The types of security threats in schools and universities and how to combat them
- The benefits of installing smart visitor management systems in educational institutions
Visitor management systems – a brief overview
Visitor management is the process of receiving visitors on your premises in a way that’s safe and secure for both the host and the visitor. It isn’t just about registering their names and other relevant details at the time of their entry. Visitor management addresses all aspects of having a visitor in your building like:
- tracking their activity/movement,
- giving them access to the right areas,
- providing clear directions and instructions to navigate, and
- extending a convenient experience, overall.
Visitor management is an important component of the security frameworks of schools and universities. Traditional methods of recording visitor information relied a lot upon manual maintenance and supervision. Today, most people try to opt for automated versions of recording visitor-related information on their premises.
With the evolution in technology, biometric visitor management solutions have gained a lot of prominence and have spread quickly around the globe wherein fingerprint scanners and face recognition are the most used methods of all.
The new way of managing visitors
Visitor management systems have become more sophisticated with new, intuitive features being added constantly. Developers are picking up potential demands from the security and access control landscape and working towards developing solutions that cater to every current need. For instance, visitors can now be registered before their arrival, and they can also be distinguished from the faculty/staff with the help of distinctive visitor badges.
Such small but important facilities streamline the entire process and take much of the burden away from the manual workforce so that they can apply their expertise in other significant areas.
Visitor management systems for schools and universities
A tech-driven system can take over a lot of application areas in schools and universities, reducing the scope of human intervention and errors, and establish firm control over the activities on the premises. Apart from the features mentioned previously, these systems generate extensive reports that give you the most accurate analysis of your premises. They record real-time data and incorporate that into detailed, customized reports that can be easily accessed by the faculty/staff members registered as admins in the visitor management software.
With everybody carrying smartphones nowadays, manufacturers have been working towards making these software mobile-friendly too. Now, mobile devices can be linked with the software, making it easy for the management to keep a track of the activities happening within their schools even if they’re on the go.
Why are visitor management systems necessary?
The fact of the matter is that educational institutions are not open to public access. To ensure the safety and security of students and staff, a high level of access control should be established. Even for the people authorized to enter the campus, accessing certain areas needs special permissions, and it may not be necessary that everyone in a common group is allowed access. In such cases, visitor management systems are necessary to customize access control.
- Visitor management systems help in clearly defining access.
- Automated VMSs are programmed to send out immediate notifications to the admins in case of breaches or any such attempts.
- Installing visitor management software for educational institutions makes the process of visitor registration and authentication quicker, more systemized, and grants specific access only.
- Certain software/apps track live locations of the visitors moving within the premises, reducing risks of security incidents.
Security threats faced by schools and universities
Educational institutions make every effort to maintain students’ privacy and security and ensure that they feel safe. Unwanted visitors interacting with students, or just strolling the campus could be a potential threat to students and staff. If any incidents are to happen on-campus regarding the safety of the people there, it could ruin the school or university’s reputation.
Moreover, parents send their children to schools trusting the security frameworks of the institution. It is a severe violation of their trust if the school or university doesn’t make sure that its security protocols are impenetrable. Parents can very well withdraw their children from school or college and file lawsuits if they find their child’s safety threatened. This can be a death knell for that educational institution’s credibility.
How can these threats be neutralized?
Visitor management systems are designed to address all the threats mentioned above. An ideal VMS monitors every aspect of visitor activity from registration to purpose to movement to exit and provides detailed reports that can be accessed whenever required. Here’s how a VMS executes solutions to potential threats:
Know the visitor
A visitor information management system will filter out visitors more efficiently. Visitors will be required to provide their government-authorized details like photo ID and address proof to authenticate their identity. This will discourage any person trying to enter the premises with unlawful intents, and the educational institution will also have a full record of all its visitors in case any incident occurs.
Blacklist suspicious visitors
VMSs study the patterns of visitors over time and can recognize the regular visitors to your educational institution. In case any visitor displayed suspicious behavior on their visit, the system will log it and will keep a lookout for the same visitor coming again. Depending upon the degree of suspicion recorded, the system can either ban entry to that visitor or can severely limit their access and notify the management/admins immediately upon their arrival.
The most significant benefits of visitor management systems
Since visitor management systems can pre-register the details of visitors, their check-ins become smooth, quick, and hassle-free.
Distinct visitor IDs
The school or university’s staff and students will be easily able to identify visitors since their IDs generated by the software will be unique, maybe with an identification number, and assigned different colors to clearly depict different purposes of visit.
Real-time records and reports
Smart visitor management systems provide you with real-time information and analytics on who is entering and exiting the building. Comprehensive information like the last visit and duration of the visit are some of the many features that such software offer to educational institutions to map visitor patterns.
In times of emergencies, having an instant count of the visitors present on-campus along with their location can be very helpful in rescuing them or guiding them towards exit more quickly.
Eliminate chances of a security breach
For schools and universities with huge campuses, visitor management systems can set up multiple access points for better tracking and security. This will have the visitor requesting or recording access multiple times. A framework like this discourages people to attempt to breach security or violate access in the premises.
Biometric visitor management solutions – applications in educational institutions
Biometric access control is becoming more common in workplaces, government offices, and research buildings. There are many areas in schools and universities that will benefit from a biometric security solution, and thus, these solutions should be seriously considered by authorities and decision-makers as we move towards more complex environments.
Biometric access for lab areas
Many top universities are involved with important research and experiments, sometimes even government-funded. These activities may use chemically sensitive or potentially hazardous substances and expensive research equipment. It would be very dangerous for such areas to have weak access protocols. Visitors should not be given access to such areas unless they have a specific purpose of being there. Moreover, installing biometric visitor access readers for labs and research rooms will prevent contamination and the spread of germs and infections.
Biometric access for sports grounds
Many big colleges and universities have sports grounds/stadiums that are open to the public on sports events. Hence, educational institutions need visitor management solutions that allow visitors to enter and re-enter secured areas without hassle, but also ensure security. Biometric access can be helpful here as temporarily issued access cards/badges could easily be lost, stolen, passed around, or destroyed.
Biometric access for canteens
There may be instances where visitors to schools or universities would need to avail of the cafeteria’s facilities. A university’s cafeteria or dining hall is a huge place and anyone with malicious intents can bide their time while waiting in there. Visitor management software should account for such instances and integrate with the cafeteria’s access point to make sure that the visitor has been authorized to use the cafeteria to prevent unnecessary lingering around.
Security protocols in any domain need to be updated constantly as per the changing environments. It is only sensible to be proactive about it and update them according to the latest technologies available. If you’re unsure about the type of visitor management system suitable for your school or university, check out the popular VMSs available in the market and compare them with the utilities and benefits mentioned above.
About the author
Deepak Gulgulia is leading Spectra as the co-founder and CEO, redefining the identity and access control business for over two decades. With a strong passion for rapid and efficient execution, Deepak Gulgulia is deeply committed towards sales, marketing, and strategic planning for his company and its products.
DISCLAIMER: Biometric Update’s Industry Insights are submitted content. The views expressed in this post are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Biometric Update.