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University of Exeter - Facial Recognition Solution

The University of Exeter has been an Xn customer since 2005. Over time, they improved customer experience by installing fast-track access but this unintentionally caused customer identification issues, making it difficult to monitor who was entering their gym facilities. In September 2018, Exeter and Xn Leisure teamed up with Customer Clever to implement their CleverAccess facial recognition solution as a way of better managing access control. Now only authorised members can gain entry into the gym.

Tightening access control in the University of Exeter’s gym facilities

The University of Exeter is home to some of the best university-based sports facilities in the UK, including two gyms, a pool, exercise studios, pitches, tennis courts and more. Improving access and reducing queues led to increased challenges managing access control issues into their primary gym.

The problem?  The creation of ‘fast-track’ access to make it much easier, quicker and smoother for the customer to enter the gym also made it more difficult to monitor who was attending. Prior to the implementation of facial recognition, the access control system was based around scanning a membership card which could not be monitored by the reception staff. This opened the process up to potential irregularities. It was too easy for customers to lend their membership card to their friends to access the gym.

“We improved our customer experience by installing fast-track system but we were potentially losing money on memberships, the bigger concern however was health and safety. You can’t give a safety induction to people you don’t know are there. Beyond that there was the customer experience issue. It’s impossible to improve communication with strangers”, said Andrew Fry, Business Systems Manager at the university.

Xn Leisure, in collaboration with Customer Clever, implemented the CleverAccess facial recognition technology as a preventative measure to this issue. The new system uses biometric readings to tighten customer-flow security into the gym, heightening access security dramatically, whilst modernising the university’s facilities.

The image captured through Customer Clever’s facial recognition technology is then fed into Xn’s system, which will recognise a person’s identity and send the greenlight to the barriers to open. The process takes milliseconds, opening almost instantly upon recognition of a person’s face.

“We added the facial recognition system as an assured tool for knowing people are who they say they are. After looking at a number of biometric options, including fingerprint scanning, facial recognition made the most sense. It’s state-of-the-art, faster and much more reliable. I’m still surprised by how extremely quick it is” continued Andrew.

Staff at the University of Exeter have been incredibly pleased with the results so far. The facial recognition solution has put a halt on non-members entering the facilities, freeing up the administration team’s time and taking the weight off the shoulders of the entire department, who can now accurately monitor who is using the gym.

It’s proved such a success in the three months it’s been in place, that the university is looking at installing the facial recognition system in other, more remote areas of the sport facilities – in particular, places that simply can’t be monitored manually by staff.

“The new system has benefited our customer control and speed of access. We wanted to provide a more efficient access control point that was easy to use but effectively managed customer flow and we’ve achieved that. We hope to have something in place by next summer so that we can better manage access into our other sports facilities,” said Andrew.

Related Articles

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Access Control

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