New and improved access control for Zimbali Estate

May 2007 Residential Estate (Industry)

The initial access control system installed at Zimbali Estate was the old Link Scan system designed and manufactured by Impro Technologies.

Unfortunately the Link Scan system that had been installed had not catered for or expected the growth that was to take place at Zimbali and would therefore not have supported the eventual development that took place.

The Link Scan system needed to be upgraded to work over a very large area with control points linked together on a fibre-optic reticulation. This was necessary to ensure the stability of the communication system and reduce the possibility of lightning and surge damage to the equipment. Rob Anderson & Associates were asked to provide an upgraded, integrated security solution to provide a secure environment for the high profile residents living at Zimbali, one of the premier residential developments of South Africa.

Designer access control

A decision was taken to install an access control system that could be tailored to fit specific needs with the ability to expand where required. The reason an advanced access control system was chosen was to ensure that a high level of access security was able to be maintained at all times, with adequate reporting and audit trail information available for the security management. Resident, visitor and contractor vehicle movements had to be monitored at all times. Staff working for contracting companies would only be permitted access to the site via turnstiles monitored by security personnel. It was also considered necessary that an access control system would be able to integrate with other parts of the security system such as the CCTV system, providing additional information to the management when undertaking audits.

The biggest issue facing Rob Anderson & Associates on this project was that there was an existing access control system in place which had not only become obsolete but would not be able to support the number of users and number of access points planned for the expanded estate.

The challenge was to implement a solution incorporating access control that would take the Zimbali development into the future as well as arrange for a change-over from the existing to the new system, maintaining security and proper access control during this period.

Planning ahead

A large amount of planning went into ensuring as seamless a change-over from the old equipment to the new as possible. This entailed a large amount of time spent cleaning up the old database, removing redundant users and converting the database for the new equipment. This also required the editing of access rights for all existing access tags. The final solution decided upon was Impro Technologies' IXP400 access control system. The fact that there was a previous Impro Technologies system on site would make migration to the new system far easier. The equipment was chosen on the basis that the system was fully expandable to well beyond the number of access points and users required that could be expected on the system. It was anticipated that the system would peak at between 30 000 and 35 000 tag-holders when fully developed and the number of access devices on site would be 140. The solution also required that the software for the access control system be integrated into the CCTV system so that there was a link between the access activities and the camera images thereby enabling recording of events.

At the end of the change-over from the old system to the new, it was generally found that in future it would be beneficial to have all the equipment built up and tested as well as commissioned in a workshop environment, as a complete proof of concept. Through this exercise a significant amount of time spent on site would have been saved and the change-over would have been more efficient. The largest unforeseen gap in the transition was the high level of IT experience required to implement a project of this size.

While the installation, quality of installation and progress could be easily monitored and attended to, as always the software and IT part of the project was the most difficult to manage. It was therefore felt that on future projects a more specialist IT individual or company should be employed to set up and manage the software portion of the project.

The benefits

With the new system in place, the client benefited immediately. A solid base had now been created for the proposed expansion. This also meant that the client could start the new project with the entire site operating on the same access control system. The IXP400 system would provide a long period in which the product could be used and the hardware would last for many years before becoming obsolete. The project also entailed the successful setting up and implementation of an access control and CCTV integration that allowed for a seamless search for people with visual indication of who was attempting access for audit purposes.

In summary, the project started with the intention to replace the existing system that had become obsolete and resulted in an extensive access control system being implemented. Impro Technologies' IXP400 system currently operates in excess of 35 000 access cards and 140 access devices. The access control system at Zimbali is now being used on a daily basis for both residents and contractors and has been a successful solution to what could have been a very intricate and lengthy transition from the old to the new.

For more information contact Alistair McPhail, Impro Technologies, +27 (0)31 700 1087,,


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