The next step in Visitor Management is to determine whether visitors are required to wear a visible form of identification, and if so, what does that look like?
This article discusses the various forms of visual identification, including pros and cons that should be taken into account before deciding on a particular method.
Best practice is to develop a security culture where people or things that look out of place are reported, no matter how big or small without fear.
Visitors are generally classified as unknown quantities, they may never have visited site before, the host may not be able to identify them.
This makes any bonefide visitor a potential security risk.
Setting an organisational policy where both visitors and employees are required to wear a visual form of identification eliminates this concern.
Visitors should be required to go to a designated meeting point, and are not given their visitor pass until the system or person issuing it is satisfied that the person has a need to be there.
This makes it far easier for employees to identify whether someone should be on site or not – they can challenge someone not wearing visible identification.
The next step is defining what that identification looks like, there are a variety of formats, all with advantages and disadvantages, let’s take a look at the most common ones:
Personalised Smart Card Visitor Pass
This is the most expensive, but functional form of identification that can be issued to a visitor.
Having a smart card, as we have discussed in \<part x\> of this series, may be a requirement if the visitor needs to gain access to parts fo the buildnig that are access controlled.
In this case, the decision on whether to issue a smartcard may be a moot point, however there is still the question of whether the card should be personalised with the visitor’s details or not.
If visitors do not attend site frequently, this may be the most wasteful method as once a visitor card has been printed with the Name and Photograph of a visitor, it cannot be re-used unless that visitor comes back a second time.
I have seen some organisations where a sticky label is printed with the Visitor’s Name and Photograph and then stuck onto a smart card – this gives the benefit that the label can be removed after the visit, and the smart card can be re-used for someone else, but may prove a security issue if someone attempts to reprint the labela nd replace it with another image or name after it has been issued.
Depending on the card technology, if labels are fairly thick and devices such as card collectors on turnstiles are used, this may not be a good option as the card may get stuck in the mechanism or the sticky backing of the label may stick inside a card reader.
Non-Personalised Smart Card Visitor Pass
This would be achieved by having a batch of preprinted visitor cards located in the Visitor reception area, I have seem them quite often printed with a large red V or similar and these are then allocated and given to a visitor when they sign in.
This has the advantage that a smartcard can be issued, and the person can be clearly identified as a visitor, but there are two key points that need to be observed:
- The cards shouldn’t be preauthorised or preallocated to a visitor, this must be done when the visitor signs in
- The cards should be secured and not left lying around.
These measures reduce the risk of an opportunist finding a visitor smart card that they can use to gain access to part of the building or facility without necessarily having the authorisation to do so.
Printed Paper Pass
Quite common in organisations where a visitor is fully escorted and therefore does not need to have a pass that works on the access controlled doors, this is also seen in office buildings where reception can open a turnstile lane or gate manually to allow the visitor to gain entry, after which there are no access controlled doors.
Printed paper passes tend to work out cheaper than electronic smart cards, so most organisations will print the Name, Photograph and person hosting the meeting on the paper visitor pass.
Paper visitor passes can also contain a barcode or QR code that can be used to gain entry to a turnstile without the expense of an electronic smartcard. It is easy to duplicate a barcode or QR code and should be used with caution.
Lanyard or Clip?
The other decision is how a visitor (or employee) for that matter wears their visitor pass.
I recently visited an organisation who used a plastic/metal clip, however the badge kept falling off as the clip had been stretched and would no longer stay on my suit jacket.
The more popular option is a lanyard worn around the neck to ensure that all visitor passes are clearly displayed to allow easy identification of people, this could also be a specific colour to allow identification of a visitor from a distance, and is commonly printed with VISITOR on the lanyard material.