How to define what a good visitor management system for schools should do is much like defining what a good volunteer background check should be. For fifteen years, I have owned Safe Hiring Solutions and we conduct hundreds of thousands of background checks annually.
And for 15 years I have heard from volunteer organizations that we are conducting a “national background check.” Please define that, I always say. Invariably, the answer will be all over the board from a cheap, instant database search (that is not a background check- there is no such thing as an instant, single source background check) to comprehensive multi-level searches that include multiple checks and balances.
A visitor management system for schools is no different. There are many visitor management systems on the market today. And I guess the most important question is what do you want it to do for your schools?
There are really two distinct camps that schools fall into when deciding on a visitor management system:
That seems odd but over and over we see schools evaluating SafeVisitor include front office personnel. Almost always there is an immediate fear of how the visitor system will complicate their already busy job.
That is why we have seen an uptick in the number of visitor management software systems that built for speed but have nothing in the process to ensure the visitor is who they say they are and safe.
Security is inconvenient. And successful schools are focused on security.
However, a visitor management system for schools can be both a great security system and provide efficiencies and convenience for schools.
What should you be looking for?
Who are the leaders of the company? There are so many security vendors popping up these days that it serves your well to do your due diligence. That is the former detective in me coming out. As well as the CEO of one of the fastest growing background screening companies in the U.S. Do you entrust the security of your school to a company of software developers or former security professionals?
Cloud-based. Cloud-based systems are the norm these days. But it is not about being the “new” thing that makes this important for a visitor management system. The cloud allows you to connect campuses, share information including high frequency visitors like volunteers AND excluded parties that are not allowed on the campus. Plus, the cloud allows for software updates that require no labor on your part.
Integrated partners. Many visitor management systems for schools are trying to do all things security. Vision and long term thinking and development are critical. However, a great VMS will know there lane and stay in it and find the best of the best security partners to integrate with.
Limit exposing PII of visitors. A comprehensive VMS will not require the use of your government ID every time you enter a building as a frequent visitor and expose your personal information to security or front office employees. ID validation should be a core feature of the onboarding process which allows for the use of a VMS ID or biometrics.
Push visitors further from the front door. A company led by security experts understands that security does not start at the front desk. The best visitor management systems will have this as a core foundation and use a myriad of solutions from geofencing, kiosks, access control integrations and pre-registration.
Background checks. Every visitor management system purports to do some level of background check. Most are doing a low level sex offender search. Some are doing a cheap national database search. Background checks are more complex than a cheap database. There are compliance issues. And you need to understand that in many states a sex offender is not required to register for life. Some levels of sex offenders are not required to register at all. And the cheap database searches are not a background screening program. Many states limit the data they provide.
These are just a few of the musts when selecting a visitor management system for schools.
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