Visitor Management

Visitor Management Software: Security Technology Removes Stress

Students have always faced stress in school.  

 Making friends, trying to fit in, coming to terms with who they are, taking tests, all of this is creating significant stress to students.  

And now we add the fear violence at school.

Yes, as a former violent crime detective and father of five children in K-12 and college, I balance having realistic conversations with my kids and at the same time providing comfort.  Situational awareness and preparedness can reduce stress.

However, much of the public discussion about school violence running non-stop on TV or online news feeds is full of doom and despair.  Fear sells products and there is no shortage of shark security vendors peddling fear to parents and schools all in the name of earning a dollar.

Many of our political leaders, both sides of the aisles, do not understand violence prevention any more than most parents.  Yet they parade in front of microphones daily, espousing theories, many to grab headlines but will do little to move the safety needle in the right direction.

 The added stress of feeling safe

Just two weeks into the new school year, most students across the nation have already practiced a “lockdown” drill which includes turning off the lights, locking the classroom door, covering the windows, and crouching down near the windows or under desks.  

This week, I have seen communication with parents to let them know about upcoming active shooter drills and reunification.  Asking for their help in the reunification drill, to have a live simulation. All good.

However, I quickly learned in the communication where the schools reunification site was located.  Understanding that most school shootings involved students, are we playing our cards? Should our reunification site be another school location?  Yes or no. Not easy questions to answer. Some would say yes, that it creates smoother reunification process. Some on our team who have served on presidential security details would say no.

 Why?  What if it is a coordinate attack?  Can you envision students acting in concert to pull off an active shooter event?  Columbine?

 We need to be cautious about how much information we share.  Should we use a “practice” reunification site that does not give away our strategy?  At a minimum, we should have a primary and secondary location for reunification.

 There is no doubt that school safety is a prominent concern – and it should be. Though it is good to prepare students for what to do in an emergency, it is also imperative that schools utilize the latest safety technology to help secure their buildings and bring some peace of mind to their staff, educators, and students.

 Make no mistake, security technology in schools is a key factor for our nation’s schools in helping to prevent tragedies like Newtown, Parkland, Santa Fe, and so many others from happening at all – or at least reducing the number of tragedies and threats of violence from occurring on a daily basis.

 Click here to learn more about how technology can mitigate risk at school.

 Too many of our nation’s schools are still vulnerable to intruders due to easy access to the building.  

 School safety is much more complex than active shooter.  I get headlines multiple times a day with school volunteers or employees that have molested, seduced or sexually abused a student.

 Knowing who you are allowing in your buildings is the foundation of a security program.  

 Security Technology in Schools

 Every school in our nation should have security technology in schools, like a Visitor Management System (VMS) which can:

  • Having defined access controls based on the type of visitor.

  • Integrated background checks that can be defined by the type of visitor.  

  • Have the capability to manage excluded parties and flag them if they try to enter. 

  • Must be cloud-based, as well as work on cellular or separate WiFi networks (school networks are often blocked during an event).

  • Integrate with student information systems and check-in kiosk for scan-in/scan-out and authentication verification for government ID’s 

  • Offer continuous background checks and arrest-alerts in real-time for Volunteers and Employees so if they are arrested for a prohibitive crime you will be notified in real time..

  • Offer geofencing capabilities to set parameters that control access.

  • Expedite getting students to parents/guardians quickly and ensure their release to no one other than parents/guardians. 

  • Emergency/Denial notification buttons

  • Integrations with crisis management systems to create a 360 security solution.

What is Visitor Management System?

Have you asked yourself what visitor management system should we adopt?  There are numerous companies who have developed visitor software systems and some are very simplistic and some are very complex.  So making an informed decision takes a bit more than perusing their websites.

Let’s start with asking a simple question:  Will the visitor management system be the foundation of your security program?  Or will it be a tool to relieve pressure off of the front desk and let visitors checking themselves?  Like at a doctor’s office?

That is two distinctly different use cases.  The former is risk mitigation and the latter is efficiency.

If you are looking for a security system then keep reading.  Here are a list of features you should require of a visitor management system:  

  • Cloud-based.  Critical for organizations that have multiple points of entry or locations and need to integrate their campuses.  Cloud-based systems also make it easier to deploy and maintain. Your IT team does not need to do anything when new updates are rolled out.  And administrators can access data from anywhere in the world they have internet access.

  • Background Checks.  Most visitor systems have some type of background check.  Keep in mind there is no standard definition of a background check and very few visitor management companies understand the complexity of comprehensive background checks and the  federal, state and local regulations that dictate disclosures, authorizations, reporting restrictions and handling of adverse information. Background screening and FCRA violations are a growing field of litigation.

  • Real-Time Background Checks.  Background checks are historical documents the minute they are completed.  Yes, they are critical to your onboarding process but they have limitations.  Would it be important to know that an approved vendor had an employee arrested for rape?  Or that one of your drivers was arrested for DUI on Saturday night? Real-time ArrestAlerts are critical.

  • ID Validation.  This is the foundation of a security-focused visitor management system.  How do you identify your visitors, volunteers, contractors etc.? Self reporting is not ID validation.  Properly identifying frequent visitors is complex and involves parsing government issued ID’s, using biometrics and other investigative integrations to validate.

  • Regulations.  Do you have industry specific regulations and the need to check against international watch-lists or healthcare sanctions lists?  Are certain parties excluded from your campuses?

  • Applications.  There is a distinction between a simple data form and a configurable online application that can trigger specific business requirements such as notifying a team member to sponsor and approve an application.  Do you need different applications for different classifications of visitors like vendors, volunteers, temporary workers, etc? Not all visitors are the same and you should be able to create different levels of applications, screening and access control.

  • GeoFencing.  Approved, high frequency visitors can use a mobile app that will request entry to approved buildings as they approach the facility and cross the geofence.

  • Integrations.  Is the visitor system trying to be everything for everybody.  A complex visitor system understands their expertise and stays with in their lanes. They look to partners who are best in their lanes to integrate with:

    • Access Control

    • Crisis Alert Systems

    • Emergency Communication

    • Student Information Systems

    • Reunification Systems

  • Leaders That Understand Security.  Software companies need developers who understand how to code and develop products and services.  But it takes visionary leaders who have decades of real-world security experience to develop the road map.

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