visitor management

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  Background checks are historical documents the minute they are completed.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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Developing a plan for reunification after emergencies

Most companies, schools, and religious facilities have developed plans for evacuation in the event of a fire or other type of emergency. But getting people out of a building is only part of the plan. You also need to give serious thought to where all those people are going to go, as well as what their next steps will be.

First, you need to make sure everyone is in a safe location and that their presence won’t interfere with the response. As first responders arrive at the scene, they shouldn’t have to fight their way through a crowd of evacuees. The best strategy is to designate a reunification site for each emergency exit. The site should be close enough for evacuees to reach it quickly, but far enough so they’re not blocking responders and are safe from additional hazards. It should be large enough to house the largest potential group of people who would use that exit. Don’t forget to consider the needs of people who have limited mobility.

 

You also need to have alternate reunification sites in case the normal site becomes unsafe. For example, if everyone is fleeing an active shooter, they should not be brought to a site which would be within the shooter’s range. If those alternate sites are at a distance, you may need to consider how occupants would be transported. Again, people with limited mobility may require additional planning.

 

Some facilities create what’s often called a “go” kit that’s placed near the emergency exits. Items in the kit may include diagrams of evacuation sites, signage to help evacuees find their way, flashlights and extra batteries, basic first aid kits, paper and pencils, as well as other material that may be needed.

 As you develop your plan, be careful about depending too heavily on electronics for storing information or communicating. If the power fails during your incident, computer apps and cloud-based documents may be inaccessible.

 Although you may prefer that the incident not be publicized until you have regained complete control of the scene, in an era of cell phones and social media, you probably won’t have that luxury. It’s likely that parents and other family members may panic and rush to the scene, particularly if your facility is a school or other organization occupied by young people.

 If your site is likely to be visited by parents or family members who intend to pick people up, your plan should also address that process. You’re responsible for maintaining custody of children and others during the incident, and for verifying that they leave with the right people. One effective approach is to have parents and legal guardians arrive at designated locations that are away from where the evacuees are waiting. Once your personnel review their identification and verify that they are authorized to pick up evacuees, a runner heads to the reunification area to bring those evacuees to the pick-up site, at which point their parent or guardian can leave with them. Keep clear and accurate records of this process in case questions arise, such as if one parent arrives after the other has picked up the children.

If there might be a delay in reuniting evacuees with their family members, you may also need to consider whether you’ll need to arrange for temporary restroom facilities for both groups.

It’s important to maintain up-to-date contact information for parents and guardians, and to have an effective process for notifying them in emergency situations, whether that’s a phone call, a text message, or some other channel. Keep your notifications brief, with only the most important information. An example would be, “We have evacuated the school and students may be picked up at LOCATION starting at TIME. Be sure to bring your identification.”

Finally, while nobody likes to think about tragedies, your plan should include a protocol for informing family members about injuries or deaths. Ideally, those conversations should take place in a separate and quiet area.

Wait -- is Code Yellow a shooter or a bus problem?

“Attention, Code Yellow.” The voice crackles over the intercom, stopping everyone in their tracks. Can’t quite remember -- isn’t Code Yellow a problem in the bus drop-off area? Or is that when we summon the imaginary “Ms. Smithers” to the office? Or isn’t that a Signal Three?

Anyone who’s watched a spy movie or one of those films showing the behind-the-scenes operations in the Pentagon has heard all sorts of interesting code words. “The President has ordered everyone to Defcon-Two, so we need to implement Code Green.” It’s pretty cool to know all those secret codes are in use, making sure people who shouldn’t have access to information won’t know what’s happening.

Schools and other facilities often adopt similar secret codes. The justification is usually that only the people who are required to take action (such as teachers or department managers) will know what’s happening, so other occupants of the facility (such as students or employees) won’t panic.

The intent may seem reasonable, but there’s an inherent problem with codes: people forget them. When they hear the code words, they may not remember what they’re supposed to mean. And if they’re the person in a crisis situation, they might not have the presence of mind to call for a Code Yellow, a Code Red, or a Code Fuchsia. Instead, they’ll panic or freeze.

We live in a different world than we did 10 or 20 years ago. Media coverage of mass shootings, school violence, and terrorist acts have sharpened awareness. That’s true even among young students. Even if they haven’t seen the news stories, they’ve heard their parents and classmates discuss shootings and other acts. Today’s students are every bit as uneasy about the potential for an incident as their grandparents were when they were practicing duck-and-cover drills.

Preparing to deal with dangerous incidents is serious business. Playing around with code words and similar strategies can compound the danger by creating confusion. It’s far better to use plain English and state exactly what you want people to do. If your school needs to be locked down because of a potential threat, saying “Lockdown now” over the intercom will stir people into action far more effectively than asking “Ms. Smithers” to visit the office.

There’s a part of our brains that’s sometimes derided as “reptilian.” It’s the area of the brain that makes instinctive responses to situations. If we see an object flying toward our heads, we duck. If our feet slip, we automatically reach out for something that will allow us to steady ourselves. As intelligent, rational animals, we’re a bit ashamed of our reptilian reactions, but they’re what keep us alive. When we see a shooter entering a building, we don’t have the luxury of carefully analyzing the situation and considering alternatives. We need to get to safety immediately.

“Code Yellow” doesn’t kick the reptilian brain into action, but “Shooter! Take cover!” will. If we want people to evacuate a burning building, we yell “Fire! Get out!” for a reason. Everyone knows what that means and what they’re supposed to do.

 In addition to using plain English, it’s important to make sure that everyone who can call an alert uses the same words. If one administrator says “Lockdown now!” and another says something about taking cover, they may not get the same response. That’s why many schools use common language such as the Standard Response Protocol [http://iloveuguys.org/srp.html] to notify occupants about emergencies. They also regularly practice the actions occupants are supposed to take when they hear those words. For example, lockdowns are triggered by the phrase “Lockdown! Locks, Lights, Out of Sight.” Even the youngest students can easily memorize that phrase, so they know exactly what to do to protect themselves.

If you’re responsible for occupants in multiple buildings, such as a school district with multiple schools, it’s a good idea to use the same protocol in every building. That way, if staff members are working in a different building, or if students move from an elementary to a middle school, they’ll automatically know how to react.

Standard protocols may not be as much fun as code words, but in a real-life emergency, they make a tremendous difference in protecting everyone’s safety.

Metal Detectors Aren't a Magical Safety Solution

There are no two ways about it: school shootings are terrifying. Students, parents, teachers, and communities are horrified by the thought of someone violating what we’ve always thought of as one of our safest spaces by firing a weapon with the intent to kill.

Criminologists point to statistics confirming that the number of such shootings really isn’t on the rise, noting that schools continue to be among the safest places for young people. Still, given the explosion of media and social media coverage, the average person can’t be faulted for thinking America faces some kind of violent new epidemic.

After this spring’s highly publicized incidents in Parkland, Florida and Santa Fe, Texas, and another in Noblesville, Indiana -- not far from our company’s offices -- there’s been an outcry calling for “hardening” school buildings to thwart potential shooters. In particular, many well-meaning people have insisted that the best solution is to place metal detectors at the doors of all schools. Indiana’s Governor recently made hand-held metal detectors available to all of the state’s schools at no cost to the districts.

Metal detectors have their place in security, but they’re not the foolproof or magical solution many advocates believe them to be. First, metal detectors are personnel-intensive devices. To provide adequate protection, they have to be staffed any time anyone enters the building. That not only includes the times when large groups of students are arriving for school, but throughout the day, and for high schools, into the evening and weekends.

If the swim team arrives for practice at 5:30 a.m., somebody has to be there to scan the members and their gym bags. If practice for the spring musical runs all evening, someone has to be there to scan all the participants. The same goes for sporting events. If there’s any gap in scanning, it creates an opportunity for someone to smuggle a weapon into the building and place it in a locker or other location for later access.

Not only do trained people have to be on hand to perform the scans, there has to be an established process when the detector identifies a suspicious person or object. Who will be responsible for frisking students or searching their bags? Will that interfere with the flow of students coming into the school?

Nor are all weapons made of metal. Even with every door protected by a metal detector, students could bring weapons made of wood, plastic, or other materials without detection. That creates a false sense of security.

Finally, if metal detectors placed at building entrances create a crowd of students who are waiting outside to get into the building to be scanned, that crowd becomes what’s known as a “soft” target. It would be easy for someone on the school grounds or in a nearby vehicle to open fire into that crowd with a weapon and inflict mass casualties. That individual wouldn’t even need a gun -- choosing instead to mimic the actions of terrorists in Europe and elsewhere who have simply driven vehicles into crowds.

It isn’t that metal detectors are inherently bad. But they’re not a panacea that will eliminate school shootings. Parents and others want a simple, easy-to-implement strategy to secure their children’s schools, and such an option just doesn’t exist. If it did, law enforcement officials would be leading the movement to use it. The fact that you don’t see police departments and law enforcement experts pushing for simple solutions like metal detectors is that they know better.

Effective school security encompasses several components, many of which can’t be purchased from suppliers. One of the most important is awareness of the hazards and having systems for alerting the authorities to potential threats. In nearly every major school shooting, we’ve later learned that the shooter had made threats or shared plans in advance, yet that information was never passed along to those responsible for security. Schools need a means through which people can safely report concerns about individuals.

In addition, it’s important to address visitor access. In the Parkland incident, the shooter was a former student who had no reason to be in the school, yet he easily gained access to commit his violent act. Would the outcome have been different if he had to obtain access to the building through the office and obtain a pass? Any answer is just speculation, but it’s worth thinking about.

Students and teachers need to be protected, but demanding simple solutions isn’t going to provide safety for everyone. The real answer is replacing rhetoric and social media chatter with thoughtful planning by professionals.

Learn more about school safety best practices.  Contact us.

Active Shooter: Facility Security Starts Far From Your Front Door

It never ceases to amaze me how many organizations establish “security” for their buildings by stationing a sleepy security guard or a doorman with a clipboard at the entrance. If someone who was planning mayhem … such as a shooter … shoved past the front desk, about the only defense that guard can offer is to yell, “Hey! You can’t go in there!” Then he might call his boss to see what he should do about it.

Even worse, those glorified hall monitors rarely pay attention to what’s signed on those clipboards. I could write “Charles Manson” for my name, and nobody would blink. Nor do most verify my credentials or check to see if I belong there. If I were a domestic abuser who wanted to get to my estranged spouse, all I’d have to do is claim I had a meeting with one of her co-workers (whose names I would know from conversations). I might have to wear a visitor’s badge, but that’s about it.

I’m not trying to be an alarmist, but we live in an era in which workplace and school shootings happen often enough that most earn just a quick spot on the news feed.

Take April’s shooting at YouTube’s headquarters in the heart of Silicon Valley. Nasim Majafi Aghdam simply walked into a courtyard in the company’s complex and opened fire on people she apparently didn’t know, wounding three before turning the gun on herself. She evidently had grievances with the company’s business practices, and these three just happened to be in the wrong place when she walked onto the property looking for someone to punish.

What’s to stop someone who’s unbalanced and has a gripe with your company or one of your employees from doing the same?

If you truly want to protect your students, your employees, your customers, or anyone occupying your facilities, you need to recognize that your front door is your point of last resort. It’s your last opportunity to control access to the facility. You may not be able to stop someone with criminal intent, but you can slow his or entry and alert authorities. Once the individual crosses that barrier, it’s too late. Even if the police arrive within a couple minutes, it’s likely that the damage will have been done.

So you need to shift your thinking. Instead of asking, “What do we do when someone enters our building?,” you need to ask, “What can we do to keep the wrong people out of our building in the first place? How do we make it clear that our location is unwelcome?”

Most people think of those as security decisions, but they’re really policy decisions that should become a central part of your organization’s culture. “Keeping our people safe” should be one of your organization’s guiding values. Finding the best way to do that then becomes the responsibility of everyone from the very top down.

There aren’t any one-plan-fits-all building security approaches, so you need to approach your situation with the specifics that make sense for your organization and facility. It may be a visitor management system, some kind of mandatory prior authorization for visits, moving the front line of security from the front door to the entry drive, creating an open-door policy in which victims of domestic abuse can feel comfortable sharing their concerns, holding a tabletop exercise to see how you’d handle specific scenarios -- the list of potential elements is endless.

We don’t need to be paranoid, thinking that everyone is out to get us in every manner imaginable, but we do need to be practical and realistic. We need to give serious thought to potential threats and ask ourselves what we can do to head each off. We need to invite first responders into our facilities and ask what makes them nervous, because they constantly have to assess risks as part of their job. They immediately notice things you’d never think about.

Employers and building managers don’t blink when they’re asked to install sprinkler systems, extinguishers, alarms, and other elements of fire protection. They don’t hesitate to identify shelter locations to protect employees and visitors during times of severe weather. So it’s no stretch to expand that thinking into protecting everyone from someone who means to do harm. Real security starts with intelligent thinking.

Learn more about Security Assessments

Active Shooters: Stop Reacting, Start Preventing

Every time there’s a shooting at a school or a workplace, the arguments begin. We need more police officers stationed in the buildings. We need to arm teachers or encourage employees to carry handguns. We should invest in smokescreen systems or bulletproof partitions. Everyone should hide from the shooter. Everyone should run from the shooter. Everyone should confront the shooter.

We’re having the wrong argument. Once someone who intends to do harm is inside your school or your business, all you can do is react. And at that point, it’s too late. Whether you run, hide, fight, or something else, your school or business is going to be the site of violence and possibly death, permanently transforming the lives of everyone involved.

Instead of focusing on reacting to a shooter or other intruder’s presence, what we should concentrate on is keeping that shooter out of the school or workplace. If a shooter can’t get into your facility, he or she can’t cause mayhem.

We can learn from the professionals we trust to protect some of the world’s most important people: the U.S. Secret Service. The image that springs to mind is the agent who jumps in front of a would-be assassin, taking a bullet intended for the President, but the Secret Service puts far more effort into making sure people with bad intent don’t get anywhere near the individual they’re protecting. They’ll react if they have to, but far more of their time and energy goes into prevention.

In preparing, we first need to get past the myth that these shootings are random events triggered by someone’s temper or someone who just “snapped.” The FBI has studied shooting extensively, and says “these are not spontaneous, emotion-driven, impulsive crimes emanating from a person’s immediate anger or fear.” The reality is that most of events are not impulsive; they’re coldly and carefully planned.

There’s a parallel in domestic violence cases. The popular “wisdom” is that people who commit violence against family members were “pushed” into it or were “triggered” by something the victim said or did. As a former violent crimes detective, I can tell you that’s nonsense. There’s a discernable pattern that offenders follow. When law enforcement and the judicial system know that pattern and intervene in the early stages, there’s a marked reduction in homicide and other violent acts. (Another reason domestic violence is important to mention is that it’s actually been related to 54 percent of mass shootings.)

Prevention involves several components. Staff members need to be able to recognize the signs and behaviors that usually precede a violent act -- like the threats and other behaviors that have been observed before 85 percent of school shootings.

We have to create a culture in which people aren’t afraid to report suspicious behaviors. Too many people are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or accusing someone who may be innocent. After most shootings, we hear that the shooter showed signs of being dangerous, but nobody was willing to speak up. Similarly, we have to share information. For example, school leaders need to be in regular conversations with local police. Police in one community need to talk with the county sheriff and their neighboring departments. And all parties to be trained in assessing threats through the use of lethality indicators.

Training is one of the most important components, and it can’t be a one-and-done approach. One of the best kinds is the “tabletop” simulation in which multiple parties gather to discuss a simulated scenario. For a school, the simulation might involve the building administrators, the superintendent, the head of security, and representatives from the local police and fire departments. An outside facilitator narrates a scenario, and everyone discusses their role and how they would respond. (I’d also recommend involving the head custodian, who knows the building inside and out, and who will have a practical approach to identifying flaws in the other participants’ responses.)

If you really want to protect the occupants of your buildings, don’t waste time in philosophical arguments over what they should do if an intruder is present. Instead, do everything you can to keep that intruder from getting in there in the first place.

Learn how SafeVisitor strengthens your access control.

How Our Emergency Button Helps Put the 'Safe' in SafeVisitor How Our Emergency Button Helps Put the 'Safe' in SafeVisitor

There is no such thing as an emergency situation that is calm, relaxed, and easy to deal with. As it is part of our name, we try and make all situations including emergencies as safe as possible.  While it may seem like a simple feature within our system, the emergency button nonetheless plays an important role in maximizing safety.

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The emergency button can be found on every page of our SafeVisitor software at the top left corner. One click of this button will do the following:

It will alert all personnel that are chosen to be included on the Emergency-Notify List . This list can vary but may include security guards, principals, administrators, and/or local law enforcement. The notification is not simply an alert stating but will also include information as to where the emergency is located. In addition, if the check-in process has started, the notification will include a picture and any information regarding the individual attempting to enter.

Just recently, this button was useful for a school attendant. A disgruntled parent entered the lobby of a school building and was causing a problem while refusing to leave. The attendant simply clicked the emergency button, and help responded within minutes to resolve the situation. This specific situation was fortunately never life-threatening, but a more serious scenario could easily have occurred in which case, the emergency button could have saved lives.

Our hope is that the emergency button never needs to be utilized, but we certainly realize its necessity. While it may not seem like much of a difference compared to picking up a phone and calling for help, time is a major factor in emergencies. As we strive to be have a fully comprehensive visitor management system, this button is just one way that SafeVisitor works to create a safe and secure environment for you.

For more information on SafeVisitor, click here

 

How to Protect Yourself at Work

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Since the most recent church shooting in Texas my inbox has been flooded with emails from friends, prospects, clients, and even casual acquaintances all asking the same question:  how do I protect myself at work?

This year alone we have seen several high profile workplace or church shootings related to domestic violence.  So what is happening?

Sadly, this is not a new phenomena.

In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act.  I was a young police officer in Nashville, TN, and we used the funding to start the largest law enforcement-based Domestic Violence Prevention Unit in the U.S.  It became an entire detective division of our police department.

I learned very quickly that domestic violence was a huge workplace problem.  Think about it, domestic violence had always been a hush, hush problem that was to be kept behind closed doors.

In the early 1990s, there were very few states that had even criminalized domestic violence.  Seriously.  Of course if it was a felony assault, then law enforcement could intervene and prosecute on behalf of the victim.  But since more than 70% of domestic violence is reported as a misdemeanor, this provides few options for law enforcement intervention if the victim does not want to prosecute.

As Nashville shouldered the responsibility for prosecuting domestic violence offenders and providing safe options for victims like shelters, we were also flooded with cases of stalking that were disrupting the workplace.

Why should we be shocked?  If communities do a better job of protecting victims, then those that harm them have to work a little harder to find them.  But where is the one place they almost always will be able to find them?

Work!

However, most of our workplaces are no match for these sophisticated manipulators.

After September 11, 2001, our organizations spent money to beef up security to protect ourselves from foreign terrorists when it was the domestic terrorist that posed the greatest risk to us.

Paul Dvorak, SafeVisitor Advisory Board Member & a U.S. Secret Service Special Agent, has spent his entire career creating safe perimeters for dignitaries like President Bush and United Nations Representatives.

Once a person of danger gets inside the perimeter, it is very difficult to protect yourself or others.  Paul talks of controlling how close people can get to high value targets like the President, and how anybody that gets within arms reach has gone through an extensive background check and security screening process.

How does this apply to my workplace?  Well, there are 5 things that every employer should focus on. Listed in order of importance they are:

  1. Controlling the Flow of Visitors.  Many of your employers think they are doing this with a clip board at the front desk or a security guard at the door.  This does not work.  You need a visitor management system that can ensure your different levels of visitors have received proper vetting before they are allowed into your facility. If an employee discloses they are going through a divorce or has taken out a protective order on a spouse or partner, then that person who represents a perceived threat could be placed on an Excluded Parties List to keep them out of the workplace and away from you and your peers. What are the key components of a quality visitor management system? It is one that:
 
  • Scans Government Issued ID.  Validates and confirms identity.
  • Mobile ID’s for Frequent Visitors.  Requires volunteers, vendors, or more frequent visitors to undergo comprehensive background checks before they are issued an ID.
  • GeoFencing.  Uses geofencing to ID approved visitors before they are allowed inside the building.
  • Background Checks.  Ranges from checking Excluded Parties Lists to conducting comprehensive national background checks.
  • Accurate Visitor Logs.  Accesses a prior visitor’s information.

2.  Training. This is not a one-and-done training module but an ongoing process.  How           do we handle domestic violence?  What happens during an active shooter event?

3. Active Shooters.  We are starting to see more workplaces implement training and             policies related to active shooters.  How  do we prevent, contain, and protect                   employees?

4. Communications.  During an active shooter event or security incident, it is critical to        have communication options that instantly inform your employees and moves them          away from  danger as quickly as possible.

5.  Culture of Confidence.  Organizations lose hundreds of thousands of dollars each             year to low productivity related to security issues.  Implementing a comprehensive           security program raises productivity and can be a great recruiting tool in an                     economy with low unemployment where prospects have multiple employment                  options.

I wanted to write this article directly to you employees to say that you need to make your voice heard.  Work with your employers to educate them on options for creating a safe work environment.

If you would like to learn more about how SafeVisitor can protect your place of employment, click here or request more information on a security assessment.

What’s the Purpose of a Visitor Management System?

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Visitor management systems have many different purposes and functions. They ensure increased safety by offering peace of mind for students, teachers, and parents, and they allow schools the freedom to address other areas of concern in creating a successful educational experience. SafeVisitor Solutions is a visitor management system that does all of these things for schools and businesses.

In a building that uses SafeVisitor, all visitors must scan their state-issued ID in order to enter. Their information is run against the National Sex Offender registry and against any exclusion lists the building may have in place. This ensures that schools have screened and identified all visitors for the protection of those within.

These screening procedures allow peace of mind for anyone involved in a school that is using SafeVisitor’s system. Students will know that their school is safe, thus freeing them from worry about the wrong people entering their school. They can focus on school work. Teachers will be able to focus on teaching and the needs of the classroom. Parents will know that their children are in a safe environment every day.

With such an increased sense of safety, the school can perform at a higher level. Because the system allows for the administration to trust that their school will be safe, administrators can focus their time on other areas to improve the school. Knowing the building is protected is very important not only because safety is a big concern, but because it will allow all concerned to perform at a higher level.

Safety is crucial for all schools. A visitor management system is very useful to enhance security. If you would like to learn more about SafeVisitor Solutions, please join us for a free webinar!

 

Is the Visitor Management System Sex Offender Data Up To Date?

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SafeVisitor Solutions frequently receives questions concerning how often updates are made to their sex offender information. When a visitor comes into a building that is protected by SafeVisitor, the office will scan their license or ID. This information will be run against the registry which has access to the most current information regarding sex offenders.

Having current information about sex offenders is critical to the safety of children. SafeVisitor uses a third-party database. This search accesses multiple data sources so that the information is being continuously updated. Each source is updated in every state multiple times a day. This way nothing is missed.  The benefits of getting the data from multiple sources is that the sources can be checked against one another. Data comes from all over the country and not from just one location. In this way, information is continuously updated as it is received.

This continuous method of collecting the latest data lessens the possibility that someone might slip through the cracks. This system not only makes the school significantly safer for children, but it also makes the jobs of the administration easier. Administrators can depend upon this reliable and current system to vet every visitor against the latest sex registry information.

With a constantly updated registry, the school is a much safer place. SafeVisitor Solutions takes great pride in the reliability of their system of keeping the most up-to-date sex offender information that is currently available.

Do not assume your data is being updated.  We recently replaced another visitor management system with a large school district that had no idea their sex offender data was stored on a local database that had not been updated in 3 years.  That could have (and might have) lead to sex offenders being allowed access to children. 

 

If you would like to learn more please join us for a free webinar! Please click here to register.

Top 5 Problems with Vendor Background Checks

Vendor background checks is an area that still exposes organizations to a lot of risk.  Most organizations have a policy on requiring vendor background checks, but do they actually audit this process or even understand how to audit the process?

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When evaluating the security of organizations, the first line of defense is to always know exactly who is entering the facilities. Employees are a priority for screening, but often visitors, vendors, and volunteers are screened at a much lower level or not even screened at all.

I recently spoke with a friend who works for a large multi-state law firm.  She is an attorney in their Government Relations Group.  With that role, it is not uncommon for her to be working after hours. On more than one occasion, she has bumped into a man working for the cleaning contractor and had no idea who he was or if he had a violent criminal history.

Her experience pinpoints a serious problem for organizations.  Would her employer be held liable if she was harmed on their property by a vendor who had a violent criminal history?  Quite possibly.

Let’s look at 5 problems with vendor background checks:

  1. Self Certification.  This is the most common form of vendor credentialing.  Companies require their vendors to conduct employee background checks, and then certify to them that they have done so.  How can these companies ensure compliance has been conducted with an acceptable level of screening?
  2. Definition of “Background Check”.  There is not a standard definition of what constitutes a background check.  How does a company ensure that their vendors require the same level and depth of screening?  To do so requires specific documentation or clearly defined requirements that are supplied IN WRITING to vendors and followed by periodic audits.
  3. Date of Background Check. Are vendors conducting regular background checks on their employees?  Many organizations only require background checks when an employee is hired.  What protocols are in place for checking employees that have been employed for 10 or 20 years?
  4. E-verify/ Legal Right to Work.  The federal government’s E-verify program is being increasingly  legislated across the U.S. for organizations that provide services to cities, states, or the federal government- including schools.  This is not a service that can be conducted by a third party.  Employers are the only entity that can conduct E-verify, and it must be done within the first 3 days of employment.  So E-verify is a post-hire check.  It is important that vendors provide a Letter of Agreement stipulating that they are using the E-verify program (if this is a requirement for your organization).
  5. Privacy Issues.  The recent Equifax breach has certainly raised the awareness of millions of Americans to the possibility of their personal information ending up in the wrong hands. Privacy issues are a concern when conducting vendor background checks.  One option would be to include any third parties in an Authorization Form, so the information can be shared with business partners who have a business necessity.

SafeVisitor has created a SafeVendor module that makes this process secure and comprehensive while removing policy concerns.  SafeVendor has a policy requirement to be able to be SafeVendor Certified.  Once you are certified, then any organization using SafeVisitor can check a vendor to ensure there is a completed background check.

To ensure strict privacy restrictions, SafeVisitor does not share the background screening report with third parties, but only shares the vendor’s ID badge, photo, and certification that stipulates the level of background check completed and passed

Join us for a webinar to learn more about how SafeVisitor and SafeVendor can help protect your organization while at the same time protecting the privacy rights of your vendors.

Are You Keeping Students Safe with a Quality Visitor Management System?

There can never be too much safety for our schools. As technology advances, it is vital for schools to make technological advances as well. A main advancement that many schools are implementing is a visitor management system.

Visitor management systems not only keep children safe, but they also provide a sense of comfort for your district’s parents. SafeVisitor Solutions can provide safety for your school, comfort for parents, and organization for the school’s office. Here are a few key features that SafeVisitor offers:

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  • Monitors temporary visitors by checking the visitor’s identification against the National Sex Offender Registry in a matter of seconds.

  • If cleared for entry, SafeVisitor will print a time-expiring badge for the visitor.

  • The software allows the school’s attendant to know who is in the building at all times.

  • SafeVisitor Solutions can screen and manage school volunteers.

These features are only a few that SafeVisitor Solutions offers to keep schools safe. Along with the features listed above, the software can also manage existing employee background checks along with all background checks for any vendors that come into the school. These features ensure that anyone in contact with students on school grounds, is thoroughly checked and vetted.

With SafeVisitor, schools are able to manage the safety of students and teachers with ease. With SafeVisitor Solutions, both safety and visitor management will be enhanced in a more organized and efficient manner. If your school does not have the latest in a visitor management system, please check out a webinar on how SafeVisitor Solutions can help your district.

Please click here to register for a free webinar!

How to Create Visitor Management Excluded Parties Lists

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When managing visitors to a location, especially a school, the focus is usually on keeping out “bad” people – specifically, sex offenders. Sometimes, however, the people you need to keep out of a particular area are not so easily identified.

Temporary restrictions might be necessary for certain life events such as:

  • Spousal Separations

  • Divorce

  • Child Custody issues

  • Court Orders e.g., Restraining Orders

With our SafeVisitor visitor management system, a front desk attendant can seamlessly determine if a person is on the National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR) or has a temporary restriction by using an Exclusion List. This exclusion can apply to a single location or at all locations of your organization or campus. Since our software is cloud based, any changes made are instantly applied to all locations within your organization.

When excluding a person, you simply  enter their first and last name. A date of birth (DOB), if known, helps to ensure accuracy, but is not required. You can also specify the reason for the exclusion.

  • Failed Background Check

  • Trespass

  • Terminated Employee

  • Violent or Threatening Behavior

  • Restricted Access

There is an “Other” option where you can type in the exact reason for the person to not be permitted onsite. There is also an option to upload a picture of the person if one is available.

Now, when a visitor enters your facility and scans their drivers license, they will be checked against the NSOR and your Exclusion List.

An exclusion list can be a very important tool from an administrative viewpoint because people don’t always know what’s going on in a coworker’s private life, and that person may not want to share personal issues with their coworkers.

A tragic example of this happened recently in a San Bernardino school. The husband of a teacher supposedly showed up at school to drop off something to his wife, a teacher. Since everyone knew him they let him go to her classroom where he proceeded to pull a gun, kill her, as well as a special needs student before killing himself. It was an incredible tragedy that possibly could have been avoided or minimized had some additional visitor safeguards been in place.

A visitor management system  that utilizes exclusions could have flagged him when he walked in the door and denied him access to the building.

Would you like to learn more about SafeVisitor and managing an exclusion list?  Join us for a free webinar we host each Thursday.  Click here to register.