Smart Cities: can smart buildings be both welcoming and secure?

A warm welcome and a reliable office building security can co-exist, says Gregory Blondeau, MD and Founder of Proxyclick.

We’ve all been there – running late for a meeting, dashing into an impressive corporate lobby and faced with a myriad of paper forms and security checks and let’s be honest, we’ve all questioned whether or not the friendly receptionist has even told our contact we’ve arrived. Cue the awkward do I / don’t I go back up to the desk, sitting not knowing whether you’re technically even later for the meeting. Sound familiar?

Worth £193bn annually to the UK economy[1], face-to-face business remains king, so how can UK organisations utilise the latest ‘proptech’ to ensure today’s new breed of ‘smart buildings’ achieve the right balance between a secure building and welcoming environment for visitors?

Moving in line with the UK’s industry-wide movement to create smart buildings that understand the needs of the people inside them, new proptech (new technologies designed to refine, improve or reinvent the services we rely on in the property industry to buy, rent, sell, build, heat or manage residential and commercial property) can now provide companies with integrated, smart experiences that bring together access control, CRM and meeting room management.

Disconnected experience

As the smart building market undergoes a period of exponential growth, why should companies invest in a cloud-based Visitor Management Solution?

[clickToTweet tweet=”In an era where 85% of Britons now own a #smartphone, brands around the world spend millions on digital #strategies” quote=”In an era where 85% of Britons now own a smartphone, brands around the world spend millions on digital strategies”]

In an era where 85% of Britons now own a smartphone, brands around the world spend millions on digital strategies, using the latest marketing, advertising and e-commerce technologies to deliver upon consumer expectations. However, there is still a ‘disconnect’ between what a customer experiences digitally, and the physical experience of visiting a branch or HQ.

Why is it that companies spend millions on corporate identities and neglect the first thing visitors see? It honestly feels as though the paper logbook is the last thing dating back from the industrial revolution which we still see in today‘s offices!

If your website and e-commerce platform says The Ritz, yet your check-in experience is more akin to Fawlty Towers, there’s a serious disconnect for your customers

If we can book our travel, message the nation and navigate to your premises using technology, why are we still met with pen and paper at the front desk? In a world where customers have likely asked digital assistant Siri to divulge a company‘s history before their morning coffee is brewed, organisations must keep pace with the technological age we’re in and deliver the front-of-house experience customers expect.

To understand how things work at busy reception desks, I used to barge into office buildings unannounced. One thing struck me over and over. There was a mismatch between the luxury of the typical corporate office lobby and the old-fashioned visitor register book used by visitors to sign in.

How is it possible that a company could sometimes spend fortunes transforming the lobby while at the same time sticking with a cheap visitor register that everyone could see? So much of business best practice is about efficiency. Somehow, writing in the register and pinning on handwritten identity badges seemed inappropriate.

One of the first steps towards creating great first impressions is to retire the paper logbook altogether, and streamline the visitor journey. Customisable and intuitive web-based software can now manage visitors to your offices, from invitation to sign-out.


On a day-to-day basis, the level of buildings security seems to have heightened within companies and organisations: Where is the warm welcome? It appears to be put to one side while certain measures are double-checked.

The dilemma posed is simple: if someone is coming to your office for the first time, they have to get past the security. It invariably involves a wait while you hear from reception that your client has arrived. Your client’s first impression will be dictated by how they are greeted downstairs.

Whilst smart buildings are operationally efficient and provide enhanced comfort for tenants, visitors are still often subjected to frustrating security measures like registering their license plate and filling in rafts of forms. As smart cities are created, and visitors utilise the latest technologies such as high-speed rail, driverless cars and smart motorways, archaic front-of-house experiences are likely to create a negative impression.

How integrated cloud technology has a central role to play in helping organisations deliver a smart visitor experience

Cloud-based visitor management applications now provide companies with simple and friendly software that connects guests with the person they’re visiting. Visitors can be added directly from any electronic calendar into the software and the process of welcoming them begins. Visitors then receive an invitation with all the information they need for a meeting and upon arrival, simply check in using an iPad. Their host is then notified by SMS, email or via one of numerous integrations, for example, Slack and Skype for Business.

The long-term vision for cloud service providers is to make arriving somewhere a frictionless process. The parking facility recognises your car, the access control is open for you, you enter the elevator to the right floor, you can access the Wi-Fi and indoor navigation takes you to the right meeting room where your favorite drink and your host is waiting for you – everything taken care of in an integrated, smart way. Every legitimate visitor should feel like a VIP.

In the case of Proxyclick’s new check-in app, the guest experience is even more seamless as it shows employees a photo of their visitor, sends the visitor a Wi-Fi code via SMS, and prints out an access badge. The future will also see VMS technology scan visitor ID cards to confirm their identity. Using a face-matching algorithm, the feature will give organisations certainty about every visitors’ identity.

First impressions are vital. In business, the first impression can mean the difference between getting that contract or not; between the client taking to you and your business or feeling that it wasn’t for them. If we can extend a warm welcome to our clients, then we have an edge in this slightly edgy world.

[1] According to a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) and UK hotel chain Premier Inn (

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