Biometrics secure Socceroo fans in Durban

Fingerprint scanning gates are being used by tour group the Fanatics to control entry and exit to the Durban Cricket Ground, which has been converted into a "tent city" for around 1200 Socceroos fans during the World Cup in South Africa.

Fingerprint scanning gates are being used by tour group the Fanatics to control entry and exit to the Durban Cricket Ground, which has been converted into a "tent city" for around 1200 Socceroos fans during the World Cup in South Africa.

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Using the scanners to enter the tent city (Credit: Munir Kotadia/ZDNet Australia)

South Africa is generally perceived as a dangerous country, which was one of the factors that led the Fanatics site manager Phil VB to opt for biometric entrance gates.

"We had to say to the Australians that Durban is safe and we need to create that environment within the stadium ... we have done that with the fingerprint scan," he said.

Six fingerprint scanners were rented from a local supplier for the duration of the World Cup, which VB said was by far the most cost effective solution. He, however, declined to say exactly how much the implementation cost.

According to VB, when the soccer tent city residents arrived, their fingerprints and photographs were added to the system, which already contained their passport details and corresponding local address. He admits that the initial rush of arrivals caused delays in the registration process but believes it was worth it.

"Most of [the registration] was pre-done with passport details and tent numbers — we just had to get their mugshot and fingerprints.

"There were a couple of small issues at the start with the rush of fingerprint coding and so many people coming in a short period, but we got through that and everyone is happy and it gives a great sense of security," said VB.

Aussies staying in the Fanatics Durban HQ agreed the fingerprint technology made them feel safer.

"Being in South Africa in particular, you really want it to be secure and the fingerprint scanning has been working quite well ... it's simple, it's easy to use, it's awesome," said one fan from Queensland.

He did reveal that some guests had experienced problems.

"I personally haven't [had any problems with the technology] but I have seen a couple of people who've had issues, just where it doesn't work, doesn't register."

According to Fanatics VB, excessive alcohol has been responsible for the vast majority of glitches.

"Drinking imposes various problems — and I saw a few of those last night! But basically it has been about 99 per cent no risk, no injuries type set-up," said VB.

This was backed up by a tent city resident from NSW.

"It's been working every time I've used it — other than a few nights drunk coming home," he said.

Another fan from NSW agreed: "I'm surprised I haven't drunk my fingerprints off yet. I don't know how they're getting me through the gate sometimes."

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