Integrated solution for world heritage site

July 2003 Access Control & Identity Management

For nearly 400 years, Robben Island, 12 km from Cape Town, was a place of banishment, exile, isolation and imprisonment. Today it is a celebration of freedom, showcasing the triumph of the human spirit over enormous hardship and adversity. Robben Island is now in its sixth year as a National Museum, National Monument and World Heritage site and is a world-renowned tourist destination. Over the last few years the number of tourists visiting the island has been steadily increasing and in 2002 the official count was 309 931 people.

Robben Island is a fully functional working island and as such has staff living on the island and commuting from the island on a daily basis and, of course, the daily tourists. The issuing of tickets and printing of lists of who was on the ferries and how many people were on the island, became a mammoth task.

Integrated solution

Impro Technologies' IXP400 access control system was used as the backbone for the new ticketing system. From the Mandela Gateway building on the mainland, proximity tags are issued to the tourists, island residents, workers travelling to and from the island daily and workers on the mainland. The tourist tickets are only valid for one day and are re-usable each day. Horizontal turnstiles were also erected on both the island and the mainland.

Employees are only allowed to take the first boat across in the morning and the last boat back in the afternoon and tourists are sold a single return ticket to the island. The new ticketing system restricts access via the turnstiles and increases marine safety by being able to print headcount reports of exactly who is on the ferries and ensuring numbers do not exceed the specified amount.


A prerequisite of the system was that it must communicate between the island and the mainland. A controller was placed on each land mass and, using a microwave link, the controllers communicated across a TCP/IP connection. This realtime link allows management to run up-to-the-minute zone occupancy reports, which increases both the security and safety on the island and gives management the tools to streamline operations.

The Robben Island project is just another example of how integrated solutions are proving to be the way forward, as the flexibility of the system allows the client to adapt it to their needs as the site grows in complexity and size.

For more information contact Barry East, Impro Technologies, 031 700 1087.


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