Visitor management system helps University of Calgary Downtown Campus increase security and move on from paper binders

The front desk at The University of Calgary Downtown Campus is constantly bustling with visitors. As with any educational institution, those guests are often there for very different reasons. From students and instructors to campus staff, contractors, and cleaners, each person who checks in at the downtown campus has different reasons for being there, and the University needed to log each one to keep everyone safe on campus. 

Before implementing a visitor management system with a digital visitor log, the University relied on what one might call an old-school method: five paper binders, cut in half, laid out for visitors to sign.

“It was quite unsightly,” said Devin DeFraine, Security & Concierge Services Supervisor at the University’s Downtown campus. “Once a month I had to take the pages and digitize them manually so that we could have a visit log stored somewhere accessible.”

Those paper binders weren’t just for keeping a record of the University’s visitors — they also kept track of the cards and keys necessary for contractors (like cleaners or caterers) to enter various locked areas in the campus building. Each worker would have to indicate which keys they were taking at check-in so that the University could track down any missing sets. 

Security officers would then look at the sign-out information and enter it into an Excel spreadsheet for tracking. The result: the University’s essential visitor data was spread across multiple forms and applications, making it difficult to consolidate into one centralized record. 

University staff knew they needed to upgrade the check-in process beyond paper. The IT department took on the task of searching for a visitor management solution that could help. 

After evaluating several different options, the department noticed that customer support and communication at The Receptionist stood out above the rest. Impressed by quick responses from the support team and the system’s ability to accommodate the University’s different visitor types, they decided to move forward with The Receptionist for iPad. 

Once the initial technical setup was complete, DeFraine took over the system to customize it. 

“It was important to be able to set up everything the way I wanted to see it for this campus,” DeFraine said, “because we have a lot of unique sign-ins.”

Apart from contractors, visitors could be students, campus staff, instructors, or faculty visiting from another campus. Each visitor type has different needs and expectations when they arrive at the front desk and must provide different information during the check-in process. 

The Receptionist for iPad made it simple for DeFraine to set up custom workflows with unique questions for each visitor type. Cleaners and caterers can mark which set of keys they’re checking out and confirm they’ve signed off on a legal OHS agreement. A student can book a specific study room to use while on campus. An instructor can indicate a space they have reserved for a tutoring session. The University can then consolidate that wide range of information into a single, secure log of everyone on campus at any point in time.

Flexibility has been vital as The University’s check-in process changes over time. Before COVID-19, campus staff weren’t required to sign in upon arrival. Now, the University needs a record of everyone on campus at any given moment for contact tracing purposes. 

contactless check-in the receptionist at university of calgary downtown campus

The Receptionist for iPad facilitates contactless check-in at the front desk of The University of Calgary Downtown Campus

The Receptionist for iPad made it simple for DeFraine to add another check-in button to log staff and notify them in case of any emergency. The contactless feature has helped the University maintain consistency in the visitor experience while prioritizing safety. 

“To streamline things, we have also used the new touchless check-in option,” DeFraine added, “That’s been very handy to have.”

While upgrading from binders to a visitor management system has given The University of Calgary Downtown Campus a much more streamlined check-in experience, they’ve seen benefits that DeFraine wasn’t even anticipating when they made the switch.

For example, The Receptionist for iPad automatically checks out visitors and students on a scheduled basis, replacing the need to pore over paper records each night. Security can track down any lost access cards or key sets much more efficiently using the visit log — a simple date search can reveal who was on-site, at what time, and whether they had checked out any keys.

DeFraine has gotten significant time back in his day as well. He no longer needs to feed pages and pages of paper into a scanner just to have a digital visit log: The Receptionist for iPad now emails him a digital copy of his visit log every month for safekeeping and compliance purposes. 

Amongst all of the tasks that a visitor management system has simplified for the University, from ensuring security to allowing a centralized and efficient system for room booking and key check-out, one aspect, in particular, stands out for DeFraine: The Receptionist’s commitment to customer service and Radical Support

“The times I’ve required customer support, they’ve been fantastic. It’s been a big selling point,” DeFraine noted. “You don’t see that level of customer service with a lot of the platforms I use.”

Read more about how our visitor management system can help strengthen campus security at your educational facility and take routine admin tasks off of your place here. Are you interested in implementing The Receptionist for iPad at your workplace? Try us out for free for 14 days—no credit card required!

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