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Access control-visitor management integration tips SIs should know

Access control-visitor management integration tips SIs should know
Ultimately, an integration between access control and visitor management systems aims to make life easier for both the administrator and user. That said, this note discusses some tips that integrators should know to successfully integrate the two.
Ultimately, an integration between access control and visitor management systems aims to make life easier for both the administrator and user. That said, this note discusses some tips that integrators should know to successfully integrate the two.
Access control-visitor management integration has become an important concept and is seeing rising demand. It’s not difficult to figure out why. Overtime, end users find themselves needing to manage not just employees, but also visitors, contractors, janitors and volunteers. These people also need to be registered and badged to access their intended areas. In this regard, access control-visitor management integration can help ensure the end user’s security, whereby the visitor’s badge is synced to the access control system and is rendered unusable after expiration. The visitor can also enjoy a good experience; after having registered themselves they can be badged and enter their desired areas, without being escorted.
It should also be noted that access control-visitor management integration can play a key role in disease control and prevention, amid and post-COVID. “It became necessary to manage visitor limits and access to restricted areas, collect additional data for contact tracing, temperature verification and health survey questions before assigning access, and pre-registering and pre-approving visitors well in advance in order to enable a contactless check-in upon arrival,” said Debbie Pendleton, COO of STOPware. “Today in addition to these requirements, organizations are now required to capture proof of vaccination or negative COVID test results prior to granting access – all of which make it necessary to ensure there’s a seamless integration between both systems.”
The advantages of access control-visitor management integration make it suitable for entities in various verticals, including government, corporate, data centers, hospitals and healthcare facilities, transportation companies, utility companies and K-12 schools. In fact, it can be argued that such integration is vertical-agnostic and can come in handy for any end user entity that has visitor management needs.
“Typically workplaces with visitors external and unknown to the organizations (can benefit). The industry is agnostic to the problem; wherever we have a flow of traffic we need to ensure systems are tailored to the complexities of workplace safety, security and compliance, from hospitality to corporate buildings,” said Steve Barrett, CSO of Teamgo.

What to know about access control-visitor management integration

Ultimately, access control-visitor management integration is all about making things convenient for both administrators and users. The integrator should keep this in mind as they engage in the integration process. Below are things that systems integrators should know to ensure a successful access control-visitor management integration implementation.

Integration is key

It’s worth noting that access control and visitor management work the best when they are integrated as two disparate systems, not when you have an access control system that includes visitor management functions.
“There are things an access control system can't do that you can only do in a visitor management system which makes this integration crucial in today’s environment, such as scan IDs, take visitor photos, record visitor temperature, answer health survey questions, sign NDA forms and record proof of vaccination data,” Pendleton said. “An integration allows each company to do what they are good at so the end user gets the best of both worlds. The access control company can stay focused on doors, readers, turnstiles and the like, while the visitor management product can stay focused on managing the visitor and staying on top of new visitor requirements.”
“While many access control vendors have added visitor management functionality, I would not agree with the notion that they can be viewed as one tool as there are multiple, specific functions that need to be performed – screening a visitor, opening a door, providing an online invitation system, configuring a keypad, adding/deleting access, providing site-specific training videos – these are all niche functions that are best provided by ‘best of breed’ vendors in the respective category,” said Roger Lall, VP of Product Marketing at Traction Guest. “Visitor management offerings from access control vendors tend to be ‘freemium’ in nature, lack robust functionality, and take a back seat to core access control features. While some now have baked-in modules to get the most value for the organizations, best-of-breed tools need to be integrated as opposed to striving for one ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ solution.”

Understand customers

Understanding customers’ needs and environments is also important. “Integration is an effort, but is not the biggest challenge – look at the business logic and facility-specific workflows required by the client first in order to create a well architected check-in and check-out experience.”
“There are many installation tips for the integrator, but most of all, advanced planning to fully understand the customer’s requirements to ensure the systems being utilized are configured properly to perform advanced functions. Therefore, we want to identify specific areas that visitors will access and create access levels for clearances needed to visitor areas,” Pendleton said. “Decisions such as whether to create category rules to automate clearance/access for different visitor types, as well as the type of credential to be used, are important. We always recommend using temporary access credentials compatible with the customer’s existing access reader and using paper or adhesive visitor badge with QR or barcode, which is not only less expensive, but eliminates the need to manage cards and reduces accountability if a visitor doesn’t return their access card.”

Identify and partition

For large enterprise deployments, it's important to identify and partition different requirements for each site in the enterprise. “For example, sites might use different access control manufacturers and also need to assign different access levels. Another important step is to identify turnstiles, gates and elevators that will be used for destination dispatch. And based on geographical location, sites may require different data retention policies for visitor cardholder records in the access control system,” Pendleton said.

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