Safe and easy access for Malta tourists

October 2014 Access Control & Identity Management

La Valletta, one of the important natural harbours in the Mediterranean, is steeped in a rich history spanning hundreds of years. It plays a large role in Malta’s tourism industry and welcomes over a million cruise ship tourists every year. In addition, there is a great deal of day-to-day commercial activity generated by commercial ships arriving in the harbour. The harbour also provides berthing for the high-speed ferries between Malta and Sicily and to other parts of the island such as Sliema and the three ancient cities.

Access to the island’s capital city, Valletta, which is located within walking distance of the harbour, was of the utmost importance to the economy and any technology needed to blend in with the historical architecture of the island.

The existing access solution, using a tourist bus, was time consuming and was influenced by the traffic. Moreover, it did not allow tourists to enjoy the local history whilst travelling and was very environmentally unfriendly. A more efficient, cleaner solution was required.

System integrator, Mekanika, leveraged its engineering experience and capabilities to find the various systems necessary for the solution. Access control, gate, door, traffic and parking automation specialists, CAME, was asked to determine how a parking system and access control system could work together. While designing the people flow controls, the proposal arose for future CAME integration to control the lighting systems that would illuminate the lift tower and landscape.

Improved access

The solution recommended by Mekanika to the harbour authorities would improve the traffic congestion and provide tourists with a better experience at La Valletta. The objective was to find an effective way to transport people from the lower to the upper part of the city, linking the Grand Harbour to the city centre using a quick and environmentally friendly solution.

Mekanika was entrusted with the turnkey project which included the design, selection of technologies and implementation, all within a very tight project programme. The company proposed a CAME access control solution, integrated with a lighting system, KONE elevators, a parking payment system with turnstiles and ticket readers to ensure people flow and control could be achieved.

Mekanika supplied two KONE panoramic glass lifts elevators and a CAME access control system with a parking system to be used as payment system, as well as a CAME HEI building automation system to control the LED lighting system via DMX dimmers on the lifts’ upward trajectory route.

On the ground floor level customers purchase a ticket from one of the automatic PS ONE payment system machines. The customer walks to the entrance of the two lifts, scans the ticket on one of the seven stainless Twister AISI316 outdoor turnstiles, enters the lift and travels to the apex in 20 seconds. In addition, two Wing40 turnstiles are available to allow physically challenged commuters to enter with ease. Three CAME Twister turnstiles and an automated Wing40 turnstile gate are installed at the city centre level.

A number of obstacles were encountered in reaching the final solution, including the logistical challenges associated with the construction of the lift towers in such a way that they did not interfere with the existing, historical structures (bastion walls). This imposed heavy architectural challenges and resulted in tight timeframes.

As with any project, the key to success is management and control. Regular meetings with all the stakeholders of the project were held on site to discuss the engineering aspects of the solutions intended for the project.

The project was extremely successful and in addition to satisfying the request for an efficient, quick, safe, clean and reliable way of transferring tourists, a new tourist attraction ensued: two 65-metre high, high-speed (2 m/s) lifts with a superb illumination system and a breathtaking view of the Grand Harbour en route to the upper level. This is also a green solution, with all the processes handled using electric motors and regenerative drive technologies to maximise energy efficiency.


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