Reprinted with the editor's permission from Managers Report, August 2000 issue.

Cypress Lakes Installs

Computerized Visitor Screening

System To Solve Gatehouse Backup Problems

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida Manager Stanley Hockman reports that Cypress Lakes Homeowners Association, located on a busy 4 lane highway with only I entrance into the community, after years of problems, found a solution. He says that the cost of providing controlled entry security to communities can be measured in more ways than the cost of the guards. He added, "The inconvenience to the residents and guests must be considered. Weigh the inconvenience of delays to thoroughly check visitors against the smooth flow of wanted guests into the community. Consider the problem of safety when traffic backs up into the public roads."

Stan says that Cypress Lakes, like many other communities, has wrestled with this problem. Adding a second guard will help the flow problem, but the cost is high. Moving the gate to safely queue more cars required a new guard house and a substantial investment and the problem of slow traffic flow is still there. In search of a better solution, they analyzed the problem and tried to determine what were the contributing factors to providing good security and smooth traffic flow.

Answering the phone to make note of expected visitors was at the top of the list of things that slowed the processing of visitors. Adding a guard helped that problem but created another problem. The resident would tell the guard a name and the guard would write the name as he understood it. At times, the name recorded bore little resemblance to the visitor's actual name. That misunderstanding actually created a further delay. Accessing the residents' list of pre-approved. visitors also took a lot of time. The guard needed the precise spelling of the resident's name.

Even with a computer to help the guards, there were a number of problems. Since the guards are not typists, they would look from the keyboard to the screen then back again for each letter or so and at each screen change of the computer. When visitors would arrive without prior clearance, delays would occur in looking up the resident's phone number then calling the resident.

They tried having the visitor go around to the exit lane where there was a phone and have the visitor call the resident and have the resident call the guard. That created a host of other problems. Stan said, "Our search for a solution led us to a visitor screening system that solved all of our concerns. This new system allowed us to reduce the guard staff to 1 guard per shift. We had already made plans to move the guard house further into the community to allow more cars in line without getting into traffic. We had already started the process, but were able to cancel the project and save over $50,000!"

Cypress Lakes' new Micro Gate system is from Computer/Software Solutions and allows the guard to process visitors so much faster because of several factors. The computer answers the phone and instructs the caller to "state the name of your visitor." The guard doesn't need to answer the phone anymore. In looking back, Stan said they found there was a lot of time spent in pleasantries with callers.

When a visitor arrives, the guard asks the name of the resident. As the guard enters the name, a list of residents appear. The guard enters the name by touching the "screen keyboard." The guard never has to look away from the screen. From the first letter he types, an alphabetized list appears. As he enters more letters, the list is shortened. If he doesn't see the name, he can scroll up and down the list. The guard can back up one letter at a time and try different spellings. All this can be done without ever having to take his eyes off the screen. It is as easy to look up a resident by address or phone number as it is by name.

When the resident is accessed by touching his name on the screen, the address, phone number and list of already approved visitors appears. Touching the name of the pre-approved visitor times stamp the visitor in and prints a pass. If the visitor is not on the pre-approved list, the guard touches a symbol on the screen to call the resident for permission to admit the visitor.

There is a feature that allows them to place emergency contact information on the screen for each residence which would like to have that information made available to the guards. The system has the ability to allow the guard to verify the identity of each visitor as well as limit the hours or circumstance of each visitor.

Cypress Lakes recently added the Gate Eye feature to their Micro Gate system. Each vehicle which enters the community through the visitor lane has a photograph of the driver and vehicle tag digitally stored in the computer. Each photo file is time and date stamped. Pictures are kept in the computer until they are archived or deleted. Stan said, "The system has been installed and in operation over 1 year, and could not work any better." MR

For more information about Micro Gate you may call Jabeks, Inc. at (561) 684-8147.

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