Biometrics for upmarket estate

Residential Estate Security Handbook 2016 - Vol 2 Editor's Choice, Access Control & Identity Management, Residential Estate (Industry)

Situated against the backdrop of the impressive Helderberg Mountain, in Somerset West, Helderberg Village is considered the prime living destination for 1200 residents, many of whom have retired to the village from other provinces and countries. While the village is a haven for its upper LSM residents, it also attracts the attention of criminals intent on gaining access to the possessions of its occupants.

Vagn Nielsen, CEO of the Helderberg Village Master Homeowners Association NPC, explains that residents pay a premium to live in such idyllic and upmarket surroundings, and rely on the Master Homeowners Association to institute appropriate security measures. In 2014, as part of an extensive holistic security upgrade project, the access control elements of Helderberg Village were addressed.

“The original system, if it could be called that, comprised a paper log book that visitors were supposed to complete in order to gain entry into the village. The entries were ridiculous to say the least and obviously could not be verified. In a nutshell, there was no control with respect to security and access control,” Nielsen says.

Access and visitor management

After issuing a tender for the access control component of the upgrade, Helderberg Village Master Homeowners Association NPC awarded the contract to Powell Tronics, via onsite contractors Zone, to provide access control hardware and software at all three of the estate’s entrance/exit points. Since many of the residents on the estate are retired, the problems associated with increasing degradation of fingerprints with advancing age needed to be addressed. Zone and Powell Tronics worked closely with management and fine-tuned the sensitivity of the biometric fingerprint readers to ensure that the majority of residents on the estate could be enrolled on the system.

Biometric tuning

Nielsen says that in addition to controlling the movement of people into Helderberg Village, the new access control system needed to provide management information on who is on estate at any one time. The fully biometric solution, comprising Morpho Sagem fingerprint readers and Powell Tronics’ PT-Guest visitor management software running on an Impro access control backbone, together with keypads utilising personal access codes (PACs), effectively manages the access of villagers, village staff, visitors, contractors and private workers with a high degree of accuracy.

The system is configurable, a necessary requirement since the estate plays host to a large number of casual and once-off visitors to the golf course, sporting facilities, clubhouse, restaurant and conference facilities. Management are able to define time zones for the various categories of non-residents that include family of residents (24/7 access after registration approval by a resident), contractors and private workers typically between regular working hours on specific days, as well as the 300 village staff.

PoPI compliant

Fully PoPI compliant, the system provides assurance to any visitors or contractors that Helderberg Village captures and uses only the required information. Once a year, the entire database is deleted, in accordance with the PoPI Act. All personal information captured is secured and restricted and no personal information is shared or accessible.

The access control system is integrated with the extensive surveillance camera presence through a fibre optic ring linked to the onsite control room, ensuring that all entrance and exit activities are fully monitored and managed.

Nielsen points out that management interacts on a weekly basis with local community policing forums and the neighbourhood watch, with the common consensus being that the estate is considered to be a fortress. Since the inception of the new security system, the estate has experienced only two incidents, both of which were related to internal staff. This is a clear indication that external crime elements have been excluded from the equation.

“This security solution is the culmination of what we have seen on other luxury estates and as a result, it provides a solid example of best practice in access control,” he concludes.

For more information contact Powell Tronics, 0861 787 2537,,

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