The next time you sign-in at the entrance to a business or residential estate, do not be surprised if you are handed a hi-tech mobile device a bit like an overweight cellphone. This is EVIM, an electronic visitor identity management system distributed by Ideco Group.
The device is a GPRS-enabled MorphoTouch 2G mobile biometric terminal from the French company, Sagem. It features an alpha-numeric keypad, LCD display, fingerprint scanner and thermal printer.
Instead of writing in a visitor book, the visitor's ID number, car registration and contact details are entered on the terminal and a fingerprint is used to 'sign'. Within seconds, the visitor's details will have been checked against a national database and his identity confirmed. The terminal then prints a gate pass with the visitor's name and the site conditions and he is cleared to proceed. The whole process takes less than a minute from start to finish.
Beyond identifying and registering visitors, the EVIM range features a desktop application for pre-booking visitors and a fast-track process for frequent visitors. Up to 10 fields of information can be recorded.
Time-based records are stored on EVIM's central server for a minimum of three years and are only available to authorised members of the premises being visited.
A frontline deterrent to crime
EVIM developer, Marius Coetzee of BioDentity, says that heightened security is the key outcome of knowing your visitors' identities, "Common-sense says that criminals are deterred by having their details and fingerprints recorded at the entrance to your premises."
Coetzee stresses the particular significance of EVIM in the light of the rise in violent crimes at businesses: "Shortly after the release of SA's official crime stats, in July this year Business Report noted that there was a 53% increase in robbery at businesses, making it one of the most concentrated violent crimes recorded in South Africa."
There were 6689 incidents of aggravated robberies at business premises, a jump from 4387 cases reported in 2005/06. Coetzee is convinced that, "EVIM has a significant role to play in deterring criminals at the gatehouse. The fact that EVIM captures an ID number and fingerprint has to be seriously discouraging to the criminally-minded."
"EVIM's market includes any organisation that needs to record visitors' details before granting them access. Applications extend beyond obvious environments like offices and industrial sites to, for example, residential and golf estates. The potential is enormous," says Gary Jones, Ideco's head of security solutions.
Safe behind a paper gate?
Jones continues, "The commonest means of handling visitors is with paper registers. They cannot be integrated into access systems and do not confirm that visitors are who they claim to be. A visitor is really an unknown entity but is granted entry on the basis of filling in a piece of paper. It is hardly secure. The MT2G terminal does not even hold any data, it is all secured on the EVIM server."
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