Ticking all the boxes for UKZN’s access control needs

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) on-boards approximately 9 000 new students each year across five campuses. The legacy access control system was suffering from increasingly limited support, both in terms of hardware and software, with maintenance becoming a pressing concern.

During the ‘FeesMustFall’ protest, the issue of student access control reached the board level and questions arose regarding the capabilities of the existing solution. Once a due diligence report was concluded, a number of reasons became apparent for considering a new solution. These included:

  • The system originated from a single incumbent contractor,
  • The lifespan of the old system was limited,
  • Annual maintenance was costly,
  • A lack of integration capabilities,
  • The system was insecure,
  • No encryption of the access cards was available,
  • It used legacy architecture,
  • There was difficulty in obtaining system spares, and
  • Very few companies in the market were able to provide or offer assistance when required as a result of a small support base.

What they needed:

  • A web-based system that could seamlessly integrate with its ERP system for automated provisioning and de-provisioning of staff and students.
  • Cost-effective, durable hardware carrying a minimum warranty period of three years.
  • The solution had to be supported by a large installer base in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Technical backup from the manufacturer and supplier of both software and hardware.
  • IP-based system that was scalable and supported a centralised data centre environment.
  • Cost effective to deploy, operate, maintain, manage and scale.
  • Future-proofed in order to ensure integration with third-party products and systems, thereby preventing vendor lock-in occurring.

The solution
Impro Technologies’ Access Portal solution, coupled with HID’s R10 readers with next-generation Seos credential technology, offered secure open standards and met all the criteria outlined by UKZN. A magstripe was included for students to utilise other services with one card.

The adoption of new technologies such as virtual credentials and Mobile Access is also easily deployed through this solution.
Impro also offered certified training for all the university’s in-house staff members to ensure knowledge-sharing and rapid upskilling on the new system.

The results
The system, which was deployed in a phased approach to minimise disruption and reduce deployment costs, currently handles over 200 000 daily transactions and has resulted in an annual saving of over ZAR3-million for the university.

Impro’s Access Portal software allows extensive integrations with third-party systems, including UKZN’s student management system, as well as the student printing solution (follow-me-printing/release on demand). This system uses integrated readers in the multi-function devices and cash kiosks, so students can make payments into their account which are reflected as printing credits. Students are then able to use any printer in UKZN and release the document with their student card.

Access Portal is also the authoritative source for identity management when issuing and managing laptops to qualifying students; while an integration with Hikvision has resulted in the deployment of facial recognition in key areas through the university.

Another strong feature of Access Portal is threat-level, which enables the university to pre-set actions in an emergency. For example, all access points can be immediately locked down, with nobody able to enter or exit, or all points are opened to enable evacuation. Whatever the choice, it simply takes a mouse click and it’s done – a critical time saving in an emergency situation.

“Overall the project has been hailed as a success throughout the university, having met all objectives well within budget and timeframe, whilst ensuring the university has a solution that will grow with their needs and enable the adoption of new technologies long into the future.”