A typical morning at any school includes a lot of hustle and bustle. Buses are arriving, unloading hundreds of kids, while parents are dropping off others. There are forgotten lunches and backpacks, calls regarding absences, volunteers arriving that need direction, and staff checking in and preparing for the day. Amid this busyness, schools have two priorities: keeping students safe and efficiently handling front desk duties.
Of course, once the dust settles on the morning rush, schools are still required to screen people visiting throughout the day, as well as manage late drop-offs and early pick-ups.
The Solution is Visitor Management Software
According to the “Working with Children Check Act,” schools have a duty to ensure that visitors are screened properly, which means that visitor management systems are required. However, many schools are still using outdated paper visitor logs, which are both inefficient and unsecure. Paper-based visitor logs have several limitations, including:
- Sign-in sheets often sit unattended on the counter, allowing visitors to easily write a false name.
- A signature, even with a photo ID, provides no information about that person’s background, which means screening visitors is impossible.
- Records in a book are difficult to manage and search.
- Paper records may be damaged or lost.
- Consolidating records from multiple schools is difficult, if not impossible.
- During an emergency, paper logs are ineffective for identifying visitors present in a school.
Not to mention, these systems require extra time and attention from an already busy staff.
Meanwhile, visitor management software can efficiently and easily screen and track visitors, while creating and managing important records. These systems not only keep track of people entering and exiting your school buildings, but also keep records about visitors such as name, phone number, address, photograph, reason for visit, and more.
Visitor management software quickly scans a visitor’s government issued identification (e.g., driver’s license) and instantly confirms that they are who they say they are. In addition, the software checks the visitor’s identity against national sex offender lists. These systems can also provide alerts regarding child custody issues or banned individuals based on your school’s records.
In the case of an emergency or evacuation, visitor management software creates an electronic record that is accessible on- or off-site by web-based systems, improving the safety of everyone on your school’s premises.
With Minimal Effort
Manual systems are time consuming and cumbersome, and leave room for mistakes, especially when your staff is busy trying to multitask. An automated system frees up your staff to handle other duties, while accurately screening visitors. Depending on the system you choose, visitors can access a self-serve kiosk, which creates an automatic record, while printing out an ID badge with a photo, date and time.
These automated systems also make record-keeping more efficient. When students arrive late or leave early, the information is recorded accurately and export options make it easy to import this data into your Student Information System, reducing the amount of time and labor required.
How to Choose the Right Visitor Management Software
Before shopping for a visitor management software system, your faculty and staff should meet to discuss what features are most important. Questions to discuss include: What are the biggest challenges with your current system? Where are bottlenecks occurring? What are the current security issues? What part of the sign-in process is most time consuming? What records are vital to track?
When selecting a visitor management software system, consider the following:
- Is the system user-friendly? Visitors should be able to quickly and easily submit their name, address, photograph and details about their visit. Repeat visitors should be able to recall their information quickly and securely without exposing other visitors’ data.
- Does it print a badge with a photo, date and time?
- Does it accurately screen visitors? The system should instantly run a check against national sex offender lists, as well as a customizable list provided by your school. A good system will also alert the school’s administrator, as well as others determined by your school, when someone on the list tries to enter the building.
- Does it have the option of a phone app, which allows visitors to sign-in remotely? This can be particularly helpful during school events, helping to reduce unnecessary crowds at your school’s entrance.
- For faculty and staff that check in every day, a visitor management system should allow you to form visitor types or categories and issue standard visitor passes to certain people. The administrator should be able to easily revoke access when a faculty member is no longer working for the school.
- Is the kiosk or terminal and visitor badges customizable? Since this is the first touchpoint for visitors to interact with your school, it should make a good impression. Including your school’s logo, colors and other options should be available.
- Does the system support multiple languages?
- Does it offer a location management feature for schools that have multiple buildings?
- Can data from the visitor management system be easily integrated with other systems within your school, such as your Student Information System.
- Does the provider offer easy installation, implementation and on-going support?
- Does the provider offer a free consultation and product demonstration? Can you take advantage of a free trial?
Considering the speed at which today’s technology is moving, future visitor management software will undoubtedly offer a growing number of features. For instance, artificial intelligence and machine learning will make real-time facial recognition possible, as well as comparisons to public criminal databases. Smart wearable devices and connected systems within buildings also promise future improvements in school security.
In the meantime, today’s highly-effective, easy-to-use visitor management software systems can make your school safer and more efficient – which is a huge step beyond paper sign-in logs!
LobbyGuard offers a full line of visitor management and front office automation products, including self-service kiosks, as well as software-only solutions. Our products are designed to increased building security and reduce workload on front desk personnel by using the self-service convenience of kiosk and smartphone-based applications. The result is a safer and more efficient school environment.
For a free consultation and product demonstration, visit LobbyGuard at lobbyguard.com or call us at 1-866-905-6229.