Access ControlOffice/Corporate SpaceSmart Cities

Exclusive: Flexible, safe and secure access for visitors


Seamless visitor experiences are created by integrating access control and visitor management technologies, reports Forge.

As we see the return of people to the office in the UK, building owners and managers are reviewing their technology to ensure the safe and secure management of people to and through their buildings.

Strategies on managing the number of people entering and exiting the building at the same time, the types of people – whether they are visitors, staff or contractors – and ensuring a seamless and increasingly contactless experience is on offer are just a few of the considerations.

A smart integration of visitor management and access control systems is one way all these things can be managed with experience, security and safety at the core.

What defines a visitor?

This is a question often asked and, over the years, like most things, it has evolved. In the past, a visitor was defined as a person visiting your building for a meeting who would sign in using pen and paper. However, today’s definition of a visitor encompasses several different people who visit buildings and need short term access – examples of these are temporary staff, contractors, couriers, flexible workers and event attendees.

Managing these visitor types is more complex when you need to think about the occupancy of your building, making sure you have enough space for them and giving them a memorable and frictionless experience that they remember. Visitor management integrated with access control provides building management teams with the tool they need to manage these types of visitors with visibility and to provide a secure and great experience for all.

Paul Speariett, Co-founder of Forge and Regional Director at Yardi says: “Building managers and owners need data now more than ever to understand how people are returning to the office and visitors need the confidence to attend meetings in person.

“Businesses need a way to create confidence to show that a building is safe, secure and provides a healthy environment. A quick way to do this is by integrating visitor management with access control. This gives the building teams real time data of who is in their building and when so they can be compliant, manage utilisation and ensure people are safe.

“Security teams can do their jobs more efficiently with the visibility of who is coming to their building and when; tenants are empowered to manage their visitors and are automatically notified when their visitor arrives and checks-in. Visitors are reassured and have a great experience when they visit. It’s a win-win.”

Short term secure access

Visitor management provides a perfect front end for access control to manage short term access for every type of visitor.

Bluepoint, a Forge powered by Yardi visitor management solution, has been on the market for over eight years and is used by over 160 buildings in the UK alone. It was first developed to solve the issue of short term access for visitors at the iconic Citypoint building in Central London; this is where the first integration with Gallagher access control was implemented.

So, how does it work? Tenants are empowered to create appointments that are time limited. Visitors are sent an email invite with the building information and a unique QR code. When the visitor arrives onsite, visitors can either head to the reception desk to scan their QR code or state their name. By using Bluepoint, reception teams will know who visitors are and who they are there to see – alternatively, the visitor can scan the QR code on the turnstiles to facilitate a check-in, notify the host and access the building and floor they need.

By integrating Bluepoint with access control, tenants in the building can configure access permissions based on the visitor type. Reception and security teams in the building can see the types of permissions easily in the system and can alter these if required.

Connected systems for better value

Interoperability of technology to manage buildings has accelerated tremendously over the past five year. Users of buildings want a seamless experience with technology like they experience in other parts of their life.

Connected systems also enable better data to be extracted and in turn provide greater insights into how buildings operate and efficiencies that can be made. When a visitor management solution integrates with an access control system, you can extract anonymised data that can be used to help manage utilisation levels, security and reception staffing levels and access as well as the upkeep of necessary amenities.

Bluepoint integrates with a number of access control systems including Lenel S2, C-Cure, Paxton, Nedap, Gallagher, TDSI and Inner Range.

Tim Northwood, Director of Inner Range, explains: “The bottom line is that integrating visitor management with your access and security system improves both access and security. The integration makes life easier for users and allows them to easily create secure visitor credentials for their own guests without having to go through a central security team.

“We often use Bluepoint in Inner Range projects because it gives users the short term and temporary access control they need to safely and securely manage visitors; it’s straight forward for our approved engineers to deploy and integrate with our enterprise-level intelligent access and security systems.”

Working with Anton Security and Inner Range, Bluepoint was specified at the redevelopment of a luxury office building, 77 Coleman Street in London, to integrate with the access control and lifts to facilitate a seamless journey for visitors to and through the building. The integration with Integriti – Inner Range’s access control system – means that when a visitor arrives, they can check-in using their phone.

A further integration with Bluepoint was 77 Coleman Street’s property management tool provided by Locale which allows staff to use one platform for tenant facilities, engagement and to book visitors via Bluepoint. Staff can use Outlook or log-in to Bluepoint to plan their visitor appointments.

What the future looks like

The beauty of integrating systems is that you can use the best in class and do not risk a single point of failure – however, it is dependent on the integrating systems being open and well supported.

Bluepoint is well documented and has open API which developers can use to integrate with their own technology. Depending on the requirements of the customer, Bluepoint with access control integration can be deployed within minutes and the data insights can be retrieved in real time as soon as the building is live and working.

Mobile technology has evolved quickly over the last few years, overtaking the speed of development in other sectors. Driven by many forces, phones have become more powerful and, crucially, more secure. The wallets of modern smartphones are biometrically secured and technology that was once expensive is now in the palm of our hands.

The long standing frustration for access control was being able to pass secure access control credentials to the smartphone wallet. With the release of iOS15, this possibility will now be unlocked.

Until wide adoption of the technology takes place, an integration between existing access control and visitor management should be included in all building management strategies to provide flexible, safe and secure access for visitors.

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This article was originally published in the October edition of Security Journal UK. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.