Safety for students

October 2005 Access Control & Identity Management

Project scope

Ensuring the safety and security of 65 000 people occupying 110 buildings under the auspices of the University of the Witwatersrand.

The history

Wits University needed to upgrade the access control at its campuses and the institutions that fall under it - including the Wits Business School, Medical School and the medical students at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. Originally the university had an entirely open campus as it was a public area, but because of crime in the area that had to change.

The goal and benefits

The security and access control measures put in place were intended to create a more secure environment for learners and staff without being too restrictive or intrusive and to only let authorised people into the specific areas they are allowed to enter.

The cards that grant access are not used just for that. In the case of a student it is linked to various facilities within the grounds and/or buildings of the university. The outermost security measures include pedestrian turnstiles and booms for motor vehicles - this card opens both of these. Once inside the perimeter fencing, the card allows access to the buildings via turnstiles monitored by CCTV. Once inside the buildings, the cards allow access to more secure and restricted parts of the buildings, cardholders are identified and allowed access to predetermined areas. The cards also serve as debit cards against which food can be bought, photocopies made as well as laser printing. The cards are also used for the Wits' Meal Booking system for catered residence students among others.

Obstacles en route to a final solution

The main hiccup in the system comes when students finish an academic year and are required to re-register on the system at the start of a new year. They cannot all be deleted from the system at the end of the year as they would then not be able to gain access the following year in order to register again, so there is an overlapping period until after registration.

The result

Vehicle theft from the campus parking lots dropped from around 17 a month prior to the seal-off down to less than 17 a year since access has been controlled.

Within the confines of the campus, students are in a safer environment and equipment in the various departments is more secure due to the turnstiles at entry points into each room containing valuable equipment. Many facilities are now available to students 24 hours a day.

Fact file

Key service providers, products and solutions:

Diebold South Africa, Christa Kensley, 011 348 2941.

Blick South Africa, Mike Lotter, 011 844 3200.

Turnstar, Mark Eardley, 011 786 1633.

Boomgate, Andre Rossouw, 011 769 1677.

University of the Witwatersrand, Giles Watermeyer, 011 717 1870.



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