Vox says the second wave of COVID-19 infections and the imminent enforcement of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) on 1 July has put business and residential estate visitor management under the spotlight from both a health and a data privacy perspective.

“Many companies and residential estates still require people to manually fill in a visitor book. But not only is the handling of pens and paper unhygienic, but there is also no way to guarantee the safety of the information contained in these registers that can include everything from ID numbers to home addresses,” says Rudi Potgieter, Executive Head – Guardian Eye at Vox.

Just consider the amount of structured data in those logbooks and the potential for abuse. Of course, that is assuming visitors are filling in the correct information in the first place. The former puts the onus on the organisation or the residential estate to be responsible for the data and appoint someone in charge of maintaining its integrity. This adds to the cost and complexity of an already cumbersome process. And when it comes to the latter, not having the correct data is bad for both the business and the residential estate especially in the age of COVID-19. Not being able to accurately track and trace people if an infection occurs can result in significant financial fines not to mention the potential loss of life.

Logbooks also make it difficult for businesses to have a real-time view of how many people are inside their premises – a critical requirement during lockdown conditions. Furthermore, the surge in remote working has resulted in suppliers and other business contacts visiting employees at home. Residential estates must therefore find more sophisticated ways of managing the influx of people.

“Unannounced visitors at an estate can significantly slow down the entry process as the guards would need to get confirmation from the resident whether they are expecting guests. Depending on the system used, this could involve a lengthy process of sending a temporary SMS shortcode to the visitor to gain entry or some other steps. If this happens in ‘peak’ traffic at the gate, the frustration of other visitors could impact negatively on the reputation of the estate,” adds Potgieter.

The modular, cloud-based Vox Visitor Management System (VMS) addresses these requirements by providing a more secure, digital alternative to traditional logbooks and SMS-driven systems. Designed as a subscription-based service, there is a hardware rental fee for the handheld devices and a license fee that depends on whether the customer selects the ‘Standard’ or ‘Advanced’ options. Using a mobile app, people living in residential estates can in real-time send a temporary access code to unannounced visitors to avoid any delays with entry.

“COVID and POPI necessitate a digitalised visitor management approach. In addition to the health benefits, this is a more secure way to mitigate against the risk of people going through logbooks or security guards being bribed to sell ID numbers. It is a user-friendly scan process when a visitor arrives (typically using a driver’s licence) with the VMS managing everything automatically. It stores data safely in the cloud eliminating the need for having dedicated on-premise servers,” adds Potgieter.

For residential estates, going the cloud route means significantly reducing the costs of on-premise systems.

No longer does it require to have dedicated servers set up at the guardhouse and have an IT person on call to deal with any technical issues. All this is managed in the cloud through the handheld device used by the guards and the application residents install on their smartphones. Furthermore, the system will automatically verify if a car’s licence disc is expired ensuring the business or residential estate denies entry. This ensures that should an accident happen inside the estate, the estate can avoid the liability for costs that can easily amount to millions of rands.

VMS ensures POPI compliance when it comes to visitor management data and becomes a key step in digitising the business and residential estate giving all stakeholders the peace of mind that this critical element is taken care of.