Access control is as critical an aspect of estate security as the perimeter as it represents the controls put in place to restrict entry (and possibly exit) along the outer boundary of the location. And while many estates are comfortable using the old visitors book in the mistaken belief that this represents secure access control, most have advanced to the level where electronic systems are used to log entry and exit, as well as accurate details of people as they come and go, from residents to visitors to contractors.
Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked John Powell, CEO of Powell Tronics, a company with a range of integrated solutions, imported and home-grown, for some insights into the current state of visitor management technology for estates
Hi-Tech Security Solutions: Are you finding that estates are paying more attention to visitor management in their security plans than before?
Powell: Yes, mainly because of the accuracy around data capturing of visitors allowing for razor-sharp reporting and history of transactions. The site is also able to enjoy faster data access if information is required, depending on the scenario.
HSS: Why are more people opting for electronic visitor management solutions rather than traditional visitor books etc.?
Powell: The ease of accessing data relevant to the site is enhanced. If the site is using a pre-authorisation system, such as Powell Tronics’ PT-GUEST, this will allow for shorter queueing times and better flow of traffic in and out of the estate.
HSS: Apart from recording a name and telephone number, what can modern visitor management systems record about visitors?
Powell: Depending on the system in place, visitor management systems such as PT-GUEST can capture biographical data in the form of driver’s licence information and licence registrations from the licence disc. In certain instances an image of the visitor can be captured, along with manual capturing of the details of a visitor that arrives on site with a foreign driver’s licence.
HSS: Do these applications take additional data into account when recording new visitor information – such as a legally licensed car or a suspicious number plate etc.?
Powell: Very much so. PT-GUEST can pick up on expired driver’s licences and expired vehicle licenses. Suspicious number plates can be scanned against the number plate affixed to the respective vehicle. Powell Tronics is also looking into ways of building a database of suspicious vehicles.
HSS: What can be done to use technology to ensure that visitors who enter during a day all leave before the end of the day?
Powell: Usually an estate will place a ‘cap’ on contractors who require access for deliveries or who are completing work on a resident’s house. This typically expires at 19:00. A 24-hour cap can be placed on all visitors who may be staying past midnight or who require additional flexibility. All access rights will be removed when the visitor leaves.
HSS: What does the visitor management solution you provide include and accomplish for estates? Can you scale your system for different size locations and different requirements?
Powell: Visitor management has become a key priority for all sites, whether it’s convenience or high security that you require. Through the knowledge base that has been developed by Powell Tronics over the past five years since releasing its first visitor management solution, the company’s PT-GUEST can assist with simple stand-alone systems up to the most complex requirements.
Driver’s licence and vehicle disc scanning via portable scanners is fully supported using the latest decryption technology on Android devices and ios. Powell Tronics’ latest versions of both platforms were made available at the end of April 2019.
PT-GUEST allows authorised tenants or residents to request a Personal Access Code (PAC), via SMS or a Web interface, for their visitors to use on keypad readers at key entry points on entry. These PAC codes are valid for a specified time period to cater for pre-scheduled visits, but will only be valid for a single entry and exit. The visitor details and PAC numbers are automatically entered into the local database for transactional history reporting.
Once the visitor has entered the facility, an SMS, email or push notification on the app is sent to the tenant to notify them that their visitor is on site. As soon as the visitor exits the estate with their assigned code, PT-GUEST removes the PAC number from the PT-GUEST visitor system ensuring that it cannot be used again. The solution assists in improving coordination between the visitor, security guard at the entrance and the residents.
HSS: How do you protect the data you collect – which would obviously be sensitive data such as ID numbers etc.?
Powell: The data stream is encrypted and the database is encrypted. The information collected remains the property of the site/estate. The database and software is installed on a dedicated desktop. The database is accessible by the estate and any entity the estate has authorised. In terms of protection of the information, one can utilise password protection measures to ensure that access to sensitive information is protected.
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