Diebold system gives campus-wide security to South African students.

June '99 Access Control & Identity Management

Students, faculty members and visitors at one of South Africa's largest universities are using technology from Diebold to move freely and securely through their downtown campus.

The University of the Witwatersrand has installed Diebold's campus system, a magnetic stripe card that is linked to an online system that allows users to enter a restricted building, take out library books or pay for copies at a photocopy machine, all with the swipe of a card.

The system uses a combination of hardware and custom-designed software to give Witwatersrand officials the ability to control all access to the university's entranceways and buildings, while giving cardholders freedom to come and go as they please.

According to Rob Hofmeyr, an administrator in Witwatersrand's vice chancellor office, the university needed a security system that would help deter strangers from wandering on campus. Like any major urban university, Witwatersrand had its share of muggings, car thefts and burglaries. The best way to cut down on that crime, is to cut down on cash handling and keep better track of who was coming on and off the campus.

"We want to reduce opportunistic crime, and create the very real perception to our students that they are safe," Hofmeyr said.

Because Witwatersrand is a large university that operates several satellite campuses, the school needed a security system that could handle a variety of functions. "We needed a system that would actually know what was happening in the university as a whole and apply that to a particular gate or a vending machine," he said.

Diebold's campus system does all that, and more, university officials learned. With this system, students, faculty members and visitors receive a plastic card that is linked to the network that stores information about the cardholder.

From a centralized processing center, the cards can then be programmed to open doors in certain buildings at specific times, depending on the needs of the cardholder. For instance, day visitors' cards are retained for reuse at the end of their visit.

Diebold's campus system also allows administrators to determine the entry policy for their own buildings, Hofmeyr explained. In addition, users can choose to add monetary value into their account and use the card to pay for copying a document or buying a candy bar.

Currently, Diebold is helping Witwatersrand control access to the school's entranceways, library and computer labs. However, the functionality of the Diebold system will continue to be expanded into sporting events, food service, retail and health care applications, school officials said.

"It's a very important system which enables us to manage campus access points and facilities far better, enhancing campus life in many ways," Hofmeyr said.

Witwatersrand, or "Wits" is primarily a commuter school of 18,000 students. This alma mater to South African President Nelson Mandela, also has about 4,000 staff members and hosts about 1,000 visitors a day.

Recently, Wits acquired the most powerful electron microscope in the Southern Hemisphere. In addition, it owns the most valuable collection of Palaeolithic art in the world. With the Diebold campus system, the school can safeguard its valuable assets and continue to promote an open educational environment.

For details contact Andrew Brown of Diebold's South African office on tel: (011) 348-2900, or John Kristoff on tel: (091) 330 490 5900 or e-mail: kristoj@diebold.com.

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