In the heart of Hillbrow

October 2005 Access Control & Identity Management

Project scope

The Ponte Building in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, has 470 apartments and 2200 residents.

Two main access points, previously controlled by a tag access control system, were replaced by the Accsys Biometric access control system.

The history

The Kempston Group owns and manages the Ponte Building in Hillbrow, and was faced with a barrage of challenges including high levels of crime, break-ins and overcrowding. The situation was largely due to inadequate restrictions as far as access to the building (incorporating 470 apartments) was concerned.

It soon became apparent that residents, in the process of moving out, were selling access tags on the streets.

The tag system was clearly not up to the task, as a tag could be easily acquired by anyone. The tag system relied on people's vigilance and simply could not offer sufficient control over authorised access to the premises. A biometric system with more advanced mechanisms would be the only credible access control solution.

When the building featured a 98% occupancy and the water supply from Johannesburg Water could not suffice, it was clear that there was a dramatic overcrowding situation that had to be addressed. The Kempston Group had been investigating biometric access control solutions for two years prior.

The solution

The Kempston Group opted for the Accsys system because it offered the best solution for its requirements, ie, the prevention of overcrowding and theft, and monitoring traffic in and out of the building.

The Biometric Access Control System offered the benefit of immediate control and security, giving a totally secure method of identity verification which eliminates any unauthorised access to the building.

The benefits

With the previous system, the company only knew the details of the owner of each apartment. The new system gives information on every person in the building.

Challenges en route to a final solution

There were a few teething problems, mainly associated with the amount of people (2200) that had to be put on the system. This dictated that Kempston ran both the older access control system with tags and the new biometric scanner simultaneously during the switchover period, removing occupant tags as residents were registered on the biometric system. Making the two access control systems compatible, was also a slight complication.

Tenders, specs and implementation

Kempston requested three proposals and the head office in East London decided on the Accsys solution. The fingerprint scanning solution was specifically requested and it was also specified what the system had to be able to perform.

The company requested quotations for a biometric access control system in April based on the necessary related research by our IT department since July 2004. Accsys won the tender in June 2005.

In July registration forms were issued to all the residents and they were requested to provide the names and identity numbers of whoever lived in each apartment. It was arranged for them to register their fingerprints and details starting from the lower-level apartments right up to those at the top, this registration process started in August.

The implementation phase was expected to be completed by end September, after which the tag system for access control would have been discontinued.

The results

The registration process highlighted several situations in which residents were evidently in breach of contract ie, owners that, in fact, did not live in apartments and there were incidents of overcrowding.

In the process of addressing these issues, the living conditions for tenants were also improved. Some people were compelled to move out and seek alternative accommodation, or had to move to another apartment in the same building.

Fact file

Key service providers, products and solutions:

Biometric system: Accsys, Teryl Schroenn, 011 719 8000, jfullam@jhb.accsys.co.za

Turnstiles: Turnstar, Mark Eardley, 011 786 1633, mark@turnstar.co.za

Kempston Group, Danie Celliers, 011 402 9121, ponte@kempston.co.za


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