Category Technology
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SA systems ensure 'faultless' control

22 July 2006 Fundi Communication and Advertising

Don't wait for disasters or tragedies

"Hallo 21st century!" This is how a member of the public recently reacted at a concert in Johannesburg when he and his party had their two-dimensional issued entrance tickets scanned and verified by a "computer" to gain access with no human override possible, thereby preventing fraudulent entries. During this test-run of the system, each ticket was scanned and access allowed or denied and all information verified and made available electronically for complete access control all in less than a second.

"Worldwide, millions of rands are lost and human lives risked daily during music concerts, sporting events and other gatherings that draw huge crowds," says Jans Wessels, Director of Dex Security Solutions.

In addition to controlling crowds, fraud and unauthorized entry, integrated access control systems now also enable event organisers to monitor and manage the movements of security personnel, vendors and temporary staff onto and inside the premises.

"Effective access systems mean complete control, assisting to prevent tragedies and save millions," Wessels says.

Access control is not limited to venues where people gather in their thousands.. Mobile solutions for smaller gatherings are also available on a rental basis for smaller venues or temporary sites. Available South African technology and systems are also utilized in offices, the business sector and homes.

"There is no location for which a tailor-made form of security and access control system is not available or cannot be designed," Wessels says.

Computicket utilizes specially designed Dex technology, two-dimensional barcodes, on all its tickets. This makes tickets "machine readable", enabling computerized control of the use of tickets. It removes the dependency on human verification with associated risks regarding fraud, bribery, repeated use and corruption. No longer is it required for tickets to be visually inspected by security staff at the gates. Computicket also assist clients, on demand, with the on-site verification of isolated "problem" tickets through the utilization of DEX-Technologies mobile scanning equipment.

The 2D-barcode on the ticket contains encrypted information that is read by scanners at the gates. As part of each scan, the ticket is verified as a valid ticket, checked that it is for the correct event, correct gate and that it has not already been used or red-listed. Within milliseconds the system will provide visual confirmation, in the form of a green or red light, if the ticket is valid and whether the ticket holder may access the venue. If linked to a turnstile type gate (man-size or waist-size), the lock mechanism will be opened to allow access. Scanners are all linked to a central venue control server and software. The system centrally provides real-time information on all gates and stadium capacities.

Personal information can also be included in the encrypted 2D barcode such as ticket holder name, ID number or any other form of identification. This can also include biometric finger or facial templates to verify the ticket holder. This personalized information can also provide valuable post-event reporting at certain events where targeted people received invitations and tickets. This can further be used at exhibitions to identify who showed interest at what stands.

This solution, working in conjunction with the Computicket system, developed by DexSecurity Solutions, was successfully rolled out for the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa and is still in use.

Several layers of security are provided by the technology (printed 2D barcode). This is over and above the paper security features that will still be present, such as a hologram and foil inserts. The first layer encrypts the information onto the ticket with a specific key (using a PKI infrastructure). This not only prevents fraudulent tickets from being created, but also allows for the verification of valid tickets by the ticket readers in the turnstiles at the venue. The use of 2D symbols allows for inclusion of data that specifies gate, date, event, time, etc.

It is possible to further protect symbols from being copied by using a "black on black" print process. This makes the actual symbol invisible to normal processes such as photocopy machines and standard scanners. Only specialised scanners used at the stadiums, can detect the actual symbol.

The systems at the stadium provide the third level of security whereby all tickets scanned in, are immediately marked as "used" throughout the entire system to prevent re-use. The passing of tickets through fences is therefore of no use. The system also caters for a "red list" whereby "lost" or "stolen" tickets can be marked as invalid. Exit scanners allow people to exit the venue whereby the ticket is recorded as "out", thus allowing re-entry.

Since the 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup, more than one million tickets have been used for cricket without a single fraudulent access gained by using tickets.
In South Africa, Computicket and DexSecurity Solutions have joined forces in providing this solution to venue managers and owners, to radically improve access control at local mass gatherings. "South Africa can rightfully be considered among world leaders in the development and management of access control systems," says Wessels.

"Organisers of sports events, music concerts and big exhibitions all over the world lose as much as 20% of gate money because of fraud and illegal tickets," Wessels says. Some of the most common fraudulent practices are used tickets being passed on through the fence to friends waiting outside, or the duplication of tickets using commonly accessible scanners and colour printers. This will no longer be possible.

Wessels says it is a myth that this type of access control is expensive. Circumstances will determine the requirements. Considering the losses that can be eliminated, the return on investment on these solutions is usually under a year.

According to Wessels, it is tragic that people should be prompted by problems or disasters first, before making decisions. The irony is that solutions are not only available, but also most affordable. South African access control technology is already used all over the world, including at large soccer stadiums in Brazil. Interest has been received from as far afield as ice hockey stadiums in Russia

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