Photo, biometrics use is in the cards

Sunday, August 1, 2004

As visitor management system technology advances, many believe the focus will be on adding photographs.

Although not widely used now, Joe Wright, director of marketing for Fargo Electronics, said today’s visitor management software allows companies to scan driver’s licenses, passports or ID cards and incorporate these images into visitor badges.

“The trend is that it’s valuable to have a photo on a card,” Wright said.“We’re trying to educate customers to up the level of security with a photo,” he said.

Customers are asking for new options all the time, said Howard Marson, chief executive officer at EasyLobby. While those ordering stand-alone cameras are at about 20 percent, Marson said it isn’t a true indicator of the use of photos on visitor IDs “because one of our devices scans driver’s licenses with photos.”

Though not widespread yet, Bill Wayman, director of security services at TVA Fire & Life Safety, said he’s seeing more incorporation of visitor photos into badges as well as the keeping of images in visitor profiles.

Some systems, he said, can take live image photos as visitors walk through the doorway, or photos can be taken separately at the reception area or security kiosk.

Biometrics are also possible inclusions in visitor management systems, although the majority of biometric usage has been at the employee level or for special purposes, such as frequent traveler programs, said Wright.

Marson said in the future, demand is likely to increase for biometric fingerprint or facial recognition. “But it’s only relevant if you have people returning frequently,” he said. Also in demand, he said, is signature capture, though not to the extent that photo is used.

How visitor management will be incorporated with other systems to ensure secure lobbies is something Curtis Lamson, director of sales for Designed Security Inc., said he’ll be watching for.

“We’re seeing things married together now that we haven’t seen before,” he said, such as the ability to record, capture and playback suspicious behavior information. Tracking, he added, will not only be aimed at visitors, but at packages as well.

Wright agreed that package delivery is an area that is being explored, as delivery persons are frequently visitors to buildings and card systems can be used to guide their access.

Those who spoke with Security Systems News said data mining isn’t going on to a great extent now, although the possibility to use visitor information is there.

As visitor management integrates with access control, said Rafael Moshe, founder of Honeywell’s LobbyWorks product, “we see more and more opportunity for linking information.” By “leveraging the information in a consolidated way,” he said, companies will be able to see the level and type of activity between employees and visitors.