The University of Venda is embarking on an Artificial Intelligence journey to provide a safe environment for all students and staff. We are implementing a leading, cutting-edge Facial Recognition system for access control at the campus and student residences. 

The safety of students and staff is one of our top priorities and we would like to ensure that there are stricter controls at the entrances of the campus to ensure that only authorised members gain access. Over the years, we have had criminal incidences and we aim to reduce these incidences to zero by implementing the facial recognition system. 

This exciting project was named #YourFaceIsTheKey upon kick-off in 2019. Only each individual’s face will gain them access to the campus and residences. We are not removing the current card reader functionality, but as an additional security measure, individual’s faces will be scanned and validated. If individuals are swiping a card, but the scanned profile does not match the profile of the scanned student or staff card, access will be denied. We will share more information and a demonstration on how the system will work in the coming weeks. 

The system will apply to all students, service workers, administrative staff and management. We will also accommodate other stakeholders like school learners, some members of the community as well as contractors who enter the campus for once-off or regular project work. 

We started with student registration earlier this year, along with the issuing of student cards. To date, we have registered just over 12 000 students in preparation for the new system. If you have not registered yet, please visit the registration desk upon your next visit to the campus later in April. All student registrations will be shut down during the COVID-19 21-day lockdown period (26 March – 16 April). 

We will continue to share updates via email, on our Facebook page and on the website. We also have a radio advert playing on a regular basis, so please tell your fellow staff, students and friends to listen closely for news about the project. We plan to have exciting awareness days where more information about the project, will be shared. Availability of more information on the awareness days will be determined by the progress of the current COVID-19 status. 

We are very proud of this achievement. The implementation of this project will not only enable us to provide our staff and students at UNIVEN with a safer work and learning environment, but we will also be the first university in Africa to implement Facial Recognition for Access Control. We have the opportunity to be the leaders in technology and to lead fellow universities and institutions by example, and we are extremely proud of this. 

The success of this project not only depends on the IT, Campus Security and Installation teams, but it also depends on the staff members and students of UNIVEN. We need you to support us in our efforts to create a safe working and learning environment. Safety starts with YOU. Safety starts with ME. 

For more information, please contact Mr Sam Khoza, Director of the Department of Information and Communication Technology at 015 962 8102 / 072 249 1288 or email to sam.khoza@univen.ac.za 

Issued by: Department of Communications & Marketing 

University of Venda 

Tel: (015) 962 8525 

Date: 27 March 2020 

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