The University of Stellenbosch has been using Impro access control technologies for many years to control access to its various buildings and facilities, both for staff and students. The university recently decided to upgrade its access systems to more modern technology, with the proviso that the new system must be able to be installed in phases without any disruptions to users.
After a tender process, Impro was again chosen as the access technology for the university and the company, university and IDtek (the SI for the site), set about planning the massive project. Another stipulation was that the SI doing the upgrade was experienced in using Impro systems and had the required training from the company.
With over 30 000 access tags on site, it was critical that there be no disruptions to the daily user experience as the project was rolled out. The importance of a smooth rollover is highlighted by the fact that the process was initiated in October 2021, with the first phase only starting a year later.
The University of Stellenbosch now uses Impro’s Access Portal Enterprise, hosted on site. This system replaces Impro’s older IXP system, which is still in wide use globally. One of the reasons for this choice is its ability to integrate with other systems. Stellenbosch runs a facilities management system (FMS) which it uses to control multiple functions from a central user interface, including its access control management. Access Portal therefore needed to, seamlessly, integrate with the FMS to ensure staff still used the software to which they were accustomed.
Gary Robinson, Impro’s Sales Manager for South Africa and Africa, says Impro provided an API to ensure this seamless integration, which allowed legacy information to be migrated to the new system without any issues.
An Upgrade Advisor from Impro was used to check which controllers needed to be upgraded to be used with Access Portal. This made it simple to see which controllers could remain and which would have to be replaced. Robinson said the university did not want a complete ‘rip-and-replace’ of all its access systems, only those that needed to be upgraded. This resulted primarily in the replacement of Impro’s EC2 controllers with the newer EC3 systems.
As noted, the university wanted a phased approach to ensure there were no disruptions to users. The upgrade was first rolled out in one building on campus in October and November 2022, to make sure everything went smoothly and worked as expected.
Since the university has a large number of students returning at the beginning of the year, as well as many new students registering for the first time, stability was critical – which Robinson says is why IXP has had such a long lifespan. The new system went through rigorous testing in the Electrical Engineering Building before the next phases of the rollout.
The project to upgrade the universities access control systems is still in progress and will continue for some time as the university takes a systematic approach to the rollout. This approach makes Impro the ideal solution as its products are known for their reliability and stability, as well as their backwards compatibility, allowing the university to mix old and new technologies as required, until the upgrade is completed.
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