Migrating University of Pretoria onto a new biometric access control system

In 2018 IDtek was appointed to install a new access control system for University of Pretoria – using high security access cards, multi-technology card readers and with the new Idemia fingerprint readers at key entrance locations.  The new system captures a fingerprint template and stores the template on an iCLASS Seos smart card from HID Global.  Tasmin Bayley explains: “These smart cards are next generation access control cards for strong authentication and data confidentiality.  The user approaches the fingerprint reader and once they present their card – the reader reads the captured template and then asks the user to present their finger to perform a match.  The result – students are limited to using their own access cards and have to be present to match using their finger print.”

“The second benefit of the system design – since the card stores the fingerprint template – the speed of the transaction is quicker.  Where the user’s fingerprint template is stored on a database then these systems begin to struggle where user populations run into the tens of thousands of templates.”

IDtek currently supplies and supports the same technology for Wits University and University of Johannesburg. Tasmin explains that the need for multi-factor identity authentication (card and biometric) is pushing a strong trend in access control and the next step will be multiple verification methods using the same hardware device: face recognition / fingerprint / card / pin.  This will give the end user flexibility in different applications on their site.

The University of Pretoria required a phased migration from the legacy system to the new access system, one door at a time, such that no access doors were ever offline.  The students were issued with a new card that worked on both the legacy and the new access control system – and their access privileges had to be applied on BOTH systems until such time as the legacy system was completely replaced.

Francois van Deventer explains –  a phased access system migration of this scale requires more than simply reissuing a multi-technology card that works on both systems – it requires multi technology card readers that can read both old and new access card formats – and that entire database under the legacy system is mirrored on the new system.  This includes mirroring the access privileges by user group, as well as door naming conventions and access grouping.  The University could not afford additional resources and the disruption of having to enrol new students on 2 different systems with the same access privileges on both.  The objective was a seamless migration from the start.  This took detailed project planning and close work with a steering co at the University.

Tasmin explains – “The entire project took close on a year to implement with most of the time spent on scoping, planning and testing before any hardware was even replaced.  Students had their fingerprint templates captured, were provided with the new HID access card and went on blissfully unaware of any migration – presenting the same card on both the old and the new system and their fingerprint where required.”