Improving security at Helderberg Village

Access control remains the crux of residential estate living and homeowners’ associations are realising the benefits of deploying an electronically driven system to eliminate human error and general inaccuracies in visitor information gathering.
Vagn Nielsen, CEO of the Helderberg Village Master Homeowners Association (HVMHA) NPC in Somerset West, is extremely pleased with the higher levels of visitor and contractor management that the new access control system affords Helderberg Village. Prior to installing the Morpho Sagem biometric fingerprint readers, PT-Guest visitor management software running on an Impro access control backbone, together with keypads utilising personal access codes (PACs), the estate adopted the route followed by so many other estates – the infamous visitor log book.
“The difference since deploying this system, which was provided by Powell Tronics and installed and commissioned by onsite contractors Xone, has been amazing. Not only can we identify at any one time where on the estate a particular visitor or contractor is through a carefully placed, integrated solution of access control readers, facial and licence plate cameras and CCTV surveillance cameras, but our 1 200 residents have a much greater sense of safety and security now,” Nielsen points out.
Nielsen explains that the main entrance (east) gate at Helderberg Village is used by residents, Village staff and all other categories of visitors, while the west entrance gate provides access for residents and pre-approved visitors. Pedestrians are required to report to the security gatehouse where their ID is scanned, they are photographed and they are biometrically enrolled on the access control system. The fingerprints that they present for enrolment are then used to operate a turnstile into the estate.
When a vehicle arrives at the main gate, the visitor or contractor is asked for his/her destination in the Village. The resident is called to confirm whether the visitor or contractor is expected. Once confirmed, the driver’s licence and the vehicle’s registration disk are scanned to provide verification both of the person’s identity as well as the registration status of the vehicle. The system then generates a printout containing a four-digit personal access code (PAC) which the visitor or contractor enters into the boom-mounted keypad to open the boom. Camera surveillance of the entire access procedure occurs, with recordings of the face of the visitor or contractor, as well as the vehicle’s number plate and the vehicle itself, taking place.
Tracking of visitors is instantly enabled, and in the case of contractors, project-based visitors or villager visitors, time windows will be allocated. The management components enable reports to be sent to security managers regarding who is on estate and who has left the estate. The system automatically provides a report on the expiry of allocated time periods of visitors and contractors and an alert will be sent to the control room for follow-up and further action. In addition, visitors who have been issued with a one-time PAC will be unable to leave the village and then re-enter without going through the registration process again.
Visitors can also be pre-registered online by villagers via PT-GUEST. The four-digit PAC number will be sent via email or SMS to the visitor and they are required to enter this code into the keypad at the entrance boom. This, says Nielsen, forms part of the HVMHA’s mandate to make security on the estate a shared responsibility. In instances where the visitor has not been pre-registered, the resident is responsible for providing permission for the person to enter the gate, whereafter they will follow the standard access procedures in terms of scanning of their drivers’ licence and the vehicle registration disk.
The deployment of the access control component formed part of a larger overall security upgrade undertaken in 2014. All contracts were awarded through a tender process and well-known security industry consultant Rob Anderson, was responsible for coordinating the project in conjunction with village management. Cameras have been installed on the perimeter, at the gatehouses and throughout the estate with a fibre optic backbone linking the surveillance and access control components to the onsite control room.
Nielsen explains that the security system is the culmination of what the HVMHA had reviewed on similar estates and can be considered best practice. Feedback from local community policing forums and the villagers themselves has been enthusiastic and general consensus is that the estate’s security system is considered to be a major deterrent to criminals.