To protect its tenants, Trinity provides CCTV and access control to all buildings. In addition, security officers patrol in the loading docks. However, Trinity wanted to enhance the existing security by providing a visitor management system through which tenants could approve or deny visitor access.
Trinity wanted a visitor management system that provided reliability, redundancy, and ease of use for the clients. The company first tried one system on a test basis but found that it was too complicated. For example, it required tenants to enter five pages of information into the system before a visitor could be approved. The system also had technical difficulties. Pages often would not load properly, meaning that visitors could not be approved. After several months, tenants asked that the system be removed.
Trinity went in search of a new system. Lois Martano, security technology manager at Trinity Real Estate for Securitas Security Services, was tasked with heading the team to choose a new system. (Trinity contracts with Securitas to handle access control, CCTV, and visitor management.)
Martano and her team decided to test a visitor management system from EasyLobby, part of HID Global.
Easy, yet secure access
HID’s EasyLobby system includes a software program with a Web interface, an identification scanner, and paper badges. The software is used by individual employees to obtain visitor passes and by security officers to monitor the system. The badges are integrated with the C·CURE 800 access control system and turnstiles previously installed in the building lobbies.
The EasyLobby software requires that an employee who is expecting a guest fill out a one-page entry form on the computer. The employee is required to enter the visitor’s first and last names, where the visitor is going, and whom they are seeing. Other required information includes the visitor arrival time and date and the departure time and date.
At the lobby desk, the visitor must present identification. While this is most frequently a driver’s licence, Trinity plans to purchase passport scanners in the near future. The security officer at the desk scans the licence or other identification, and the EasyLobby software matches the data to the visitor request entered by the employee.
The system then prints out a badge for the visitor. The badge includes a bar code with standard guest access information. Additional data is printed on the badge, such as all the information on the entry form, including the destination and employee being visited. A special visitor card reader in the lobby scans the badge to allow the visitor entry. Guards in the lobby are on hand to guide visitors to the correct reader.
The Web-based system works quickly. According to Martano, it takes approximately 20 seconds for a person to be cleared at the lobby desk after the employee completes the entry form on his or her desktop computer.
According to Martano, the system is also helpful with repeat visitors. For example, if an actor is coming to the building to film part of a movie and he is going to be there for two weeks, his visitor pass will expire at the end of those two weeks. However, if the company calls the actor in to reshoot some of the footage, it need not create a new entry from scratch. Instead, an employee can conduct a search of past visitors by name. All of the actor’s visits come up on the screen. The employee can then highlight one of those visits to retrieve the entry screen, change the dates, and resubmit the visitor pass request.
The HID Global EasyLobby software also simplifies the process of replacing lost visitor badges and invalidating the old ones, and checking with the appropriate employee if an expired visitor badge is presented at the lobby.
Additionally, tenants can create watch lists of visitors who will not be permitted entry, and run reports about visitor volume and activity during specified timeframes.
The software also allows security officers to easily monitor how many visitors are in the building at any given time. “This is especially helpful for fire-safety issues,” says Martano. “We can tell exactly how many people are there and who they are. This was very difficult to do with the old system.”
To help avoid problems at the front desk, the EasyLobby system sends an e-mail letting the employee know that his or her visitor is due to arrive on a certain day at a certain time. “This allows the employee to check the date of the visit and the spelling of the visitor’s name,” says Martano.
Based on positive tenant reviews, the system went live in one building initially and was expanded to two more a month later. The system will continue to be expanded based on tenant needs.
Trinity has tweaked the system to respond to tenant issues. For example, tenants have asked Trinity to revisit its policy on extended visits. When the system was first installed, a pass could be issued for any length of time up to two weeks. Tenants asked to extend the time frame, noting that some interns stayed much longer than two weeks.
“After looking at the issue and seeing how many visitors stayed longer periods of time, we decided to extend it,” says Martano. “It took 5 minutes to make a few changes and extend the date. Now, we can do passes for up to 60 days.”
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