Visitor management for campuses


With thousands of people on-site every day, the physical security of campus sites is critical in providing all people, including short-term visitors, the confidence they need.

Visitor management integrated with access control helps with the secure and efficient movement of people. With multiple entrances and an ever-changing dynamic of visitor flows, an integrated system that is flexible helps provide awareness and offers multiple options for processing visitors efficiently.

Paul Speariett, regional director at Yardi says, “There are a number of challenges for campus sites in that there are multiple entrances, large amounts of people moving through at one time, a number of big groups or events happening and short-term visitors, contractors or staff who have a lack of knowledge about where to go or who they may be on campus to see.”

There is a real challenge of balancing an open, accessible, and welcoming campus with safety and security. Human security is part of the solution, but from a practicality and cost perspective, there needs to be supported by a digitised solution. The smart solution is a blended one in which digital access and visitor management support and underpins the role of security and reception staff.

“Safer campuses attract students and visitors,” says Speariett. “ A university’s reputation and people management are just as important, if not more so than asset management,” says Speariett.

Managing visitor Movement

The UK Government’s counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, released in 2018 spurred the University of Derby into finding out ways they could provide a more secure and safe process for short-term visitors.

As a top modern university with over 20,000 students and over 15,000 visitors per month, the University of Derby wanted to have a way of managing the movement of short-term visitors and gain real-time awareness of who was on campus and when.

After a tender process, Yardi Bluepoint was awarded the contract. Bluepoint provides the campus reception and security teams with awareness of visitors coming to campus. The hosts can invite their visitors via Bluepoint or Microsoft Outlook, which books them into the system. Reception, security and building management teams can check Bluepoint and see how many visitors are arriving and when and plan staffing levels to accommodate busy and quiet times.

Vlad Ispas, project officer, ITPO Digital Solutions & Services said, “Smart technology that allows our teams to have the data they need to provide a safe and secure environment for all people on campus is mandatory. There is no one piece of software that will do this so we implemented the best in breed which can integrate to facilitate this. Visitor management integrated with access control is one of these.”

Bluepoint integrates with TDSi, the onsite access control, to enable time-limited appointments for these visitors. Visitor cards are then activated with credentials for access. These permissions are set within Bluepoint by the campus site holistically or by each facility or campus building, which allows for short term access that suits each area.

Ispas reveals how the university is using the technology to support its security and visitor management process:

  • We have gained a more detailed overview of the number and type of visitors expected and who is present on site.
  • Bluepoint enables check-in at reception or a kiosk, and the printing of a visitor pass for people who have pre-planned their visit. This makes it easier for security and staff to identify the visitors from staff and students.
  • Details of the visitors are stored in the cloud via Bluepoint, which means when a host invites them again, they can save time as their details are already in the system.
  • Hosts are automatically notified when their visitors arrive and check-in via an email or SMS, saving the reception team the task of having to locate and notify the host.
  • Self-check-in kiosks allow visitors to check in again saving the reception team and the visitor time when they arrive on campus.
  • Multiple hosts can be added to appointments, which means the host can delegate tasks to their colleagues whilst having an overview of the appointment.

Ispas explains, “Time-saving, increased security and a great experience for visitors and staff are the main benefits, which simply means Bluepoint visitor management has been a success and has now been rolled out across our other three campus sites, Buxton, Chesterfield and Leek.”

Making visitors welcome

Other benefits of the system include communication. The visitor invite sent by Bluepoint is often the first and possibly the only communication the visitor will get before they come to the campus. The visitor invite can be created by the University to reflect their brand, including all vital information the visitor needs for their visit, including the arrival process such as where they need to go and any health and safety information – which can be updated at any time.

The invite also provides the university with the opportunity to promote any courses or events that might be running that may interest the visitor, including open days and career fairs.

A form can also be included in the invite for the visitor to fill out and return before their visit. This could be a form to check their health status or a feedback form. For example, it could be a way of finding out how the visitor intends to travel to the campus – giving the university insightful information on the environmental impact of visits.

“Bluepoint gives universities the opportunity to make a great first impression. The communication they send in the visitor invite email can reflect several things including the university’s ethos and culture. It can also be a way of sharing more information about what the university is doing to ensure the visitor’s health and safety, which can be an important part of ensuring the visitor feels valued and will be safe on campus,” says Speariett.

Cost management and infrastructure disruption are often key barriers to the adoption of technology across university sites, but with Bluepoint visitor management, set-up and onboarding can be simple.

You can streamline visitor management flows and ensure visibility. Provide consistent processes so movement between campus sites is familiar and safe. Data capture and storage helps with key reporting whilst respecting and maintaining the privacy of your visitors, staff and students. Bluepoint gives you complete control of the data, and data requests and retention periods can be set to your own policies and procedures.

Early next year the University of Staffordshire, shortlisted for University of the Year 2020 by Times Higher Education Awards, will join the University of Derby in using Bluepoint powered by Yardi to manage visitors to its campus.

This article was first published in Security Journal UK.