Residents only!

November 2006 Access Control & Identity Management

The history

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) was experiencing a major problem at one of its student residences, the temporary home of 865 students, because some students were bringing in non-residents for extended visits.

There were two main aspects to this problem: non-students taking up extended occupation in the residence were using all the residence facilities without paying for that privilege, so CPUT was footing large bills for the provision of these services; and the safety and security of the genuine students was being compromised, as there were many unknown people living in the residence.

As Clive Fortuin, head: Services, Procurement & Security at CPUT, explains: "Our existing security system was based on card readers and turnstiles but we found that the cards were simply being passed around so anyone could gain access to the residence.

"As CPUT is, in effect, standing 'in loco parentis' to the students, many of whom are still under 21 years old, we were being exposed to unacceptable levels of risk by the presence of these unauthorised people wandering around the residence."

The university knew it had this problem for quite some time without knowing how to resolve the problem so a strategic planning exercise was undertaken to examine the options.

"CPUT found that there were three main requirements for the proposed solution," adds Fortuin.

1. To eliminate access to unauthorised individuals to the residence

2. To achieve financial savings through reduced operating costs at the residence

3. To provide better security for the student population living at the residence

The solution

CPUT put its requirements out to tender before awarding the contract to Genxsys, a Cape Town-based security solutions provider. Tony Askew, managing director of Genxsys, comments: "CPUT gave Genxsys a mandate to come up with a solution and we succeeded in meeting the requirements within CPUT's budget constraints."

A biometric fingerprint-based solution was proposed as this would eliminate the need for cards and therefore stop unauthorised entry to the residence.

Design, specification and implementation processes were separately specified, to a certain degree. There was no need for additional services from consultants on this project.

"There was no requirement for integration into other systems so the solution was relatively simple in CPUT's case. There was no need for complex project management processes," says Askew.

Genxsys' solution was based on installing eight Sagem biometric fingerprint readers onto existing turnstiles using Softcon controllers for the access control anti-pass-back function.

The benefits

Askew explains: "Anti-pass-back functions are used to construct specific rules to meet the client's requirements. Anti-pass-back, for example, prevents a person from entering their print and allowing someone else entry before using their print again to enter themselves. Previously-acceptable fingerprints can also be cancelled in the event of a student being expelled or having graduated from the institution.

"The biometric solution ensures that only authorised individuals are allowed through into restricted areas. There is now very strict control over the visitor population."

Fortuin adds: "Organisations contemplating security upgrades should ensure that the entire project has a suitable custodian appointed within the organisation to manage progress and ensure that the value of the system is maximised. Otherwise it can become a white elephant.

"It is also crucial to get buy in from the users (students), otherwise the system will be compromised. Operationally, it is also vital to ensure that trained staff members are always available to manage the enrolment process of acquiring student and visitor fingerprints. An untrained person will cause delays and people will lose confidence in the system. The system must also be tested on a regular basis to ensure that it is working properly."

He concludes: "We achieved everything we set out to do. We now have the visitor control that we need and are providing a high level of security for our bona fide students.

"CPUT is also benefiting from the savings achieved on the operating costs of the residence. This is an important result for CPUT as resources are scarce and they need to be utilised to the maximum if CPUT is to achieve the educational goals that have been set."

Fact file

Genxsys, Tony Askew, +27 (0) 21 914 7821,

Sentronics, Bernard Senekal, +27 (0) 21 957 4505,

Softcon Cape, Eugene Booyens, +27 (0) 83 271 5074

CPUT, Clive Fortuin,

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