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Full Height Turnstiles


When it comes to protective design, a lot of emphasis is placed on preventing intrusion to the secured space. Perimeter security now focuses on several layered strategies that can include high-tech AI video monitoring, “old school” demarcation/deterences like fence barriers, as well as hostile vehicle mitigation centered around barriers that can stop speeding cars and trucks. But keeping unwanted intruders out is only part of the responsibility in designing a security plan. 


What are security entrances?


Allowing people IN is also vitally important for a facility or building to function. If security professionals could simply lock down every access point, a facility would be almost totally secure. However, the moment you allow people, whether authorized personnel or the public, to enter and exit the premises, security can be compromised. 


Security entrances, like turnstiles and revolving doors, provide access to authorized personnel by requiring them to pass through an access control point. These entryways can be guarded by security officers who check identifications or by installing sensors, cameras and biometric or card reader technology. This allows better control of what is called through-put – or in simple terms, how many people can enter and exit the building.


Are security entrances designed for exterior or interior?


They can be both. Whether it is a vehicle barrier access control point that permits authorized personnel to enter and exit parking or loading areas or the entrance to a building through traditional swing or revolving doorways, security entrances are critical components of every protective design.  


What types of pedestrian security entrances are there?


Security entrances will differ depending on the type of facility. Is this a private building or military facility where the general public cannot gain access? Or, is it a retail store or public building catering to large numbers of people coming and going like a library, subway, airport or sports stadium? In all cases, access must be controlled without creating long waits or choke points.


For private, military or government facilities, security turnstiles and revolving doors allow restricted entry into the building only to authorized personnel. Without the proper badge, ID or access card, the turnstile or revolving door will not operate. 


For public access, once inside the lobby area, visitors typically encounter a layer of security in the form of an access control check point. The most obvious example being an airport where entry into the terminal is unrestricted but access to airline gates requires screening. Checkpoints are typically manned by security personnel. However, fewer people are required to man entryways employing security turnstiles which can identify authorized personnel and grant access using biometrics or card reader technology.


What are optical turnstiles?


Optical turnstiles differ from tripod turnstiles because they consist of two waist-high cabinets interconnected by infrared beams that detect when a person passes through the turnstile gate opening. They are typically used with high-tech security options like access codes, card readers or biometrics. When an unauthorized person attempts to pass through the optical turnstile, the two barrier arms will not open and an alarm is triggered.


What are the types of turnstile security?


Turnstile access control systems can be half height (sometimes called waist-high) or full height (floor to ceiling).  Each comes with different security options as well as advantages and disadvantages.


Half height turnstile gates can be traditional tripod arm mechanisms or they can be optical turnstiles. Many people will remember tripod turnstiles guarding entry to the subway platform or ballpark. A tripod turnstile has three barrier arms where each arm rotates 120 degrees from a single cabinet. Modern versions can employ card readers or biometrics instead of subway tokens. 


Full height turnstiles can be designed for either exterior use in concert with a fence line or gate – or – they can be used for building interior/exterior entrances and exits. Full height turnstile gates also can be equipped with security options like anti-tailgating or piggybacking technology.


What is tailgating?


This is when an unauthorized person follows closely behind an authorized person entering the building through an access control turnstile or swing door. You see it all the time at apartment buildings where one person is “buzzed” inside and another, different person follows them inside. This also occurs with revolving doors where an intruder will enter the empty compartment behind an authorized user. Anti-tailgating technology detects this and triggers an alarm and/or locks down the intruder’s compartment.


What is piggybacking?


This is when an intruder attempts to occupy the same revolving door compartment as an authorized user. Anti-piggybacking sensors detect two physical occupants and trigger an alarm and in some cases stops and locks down the intruder compartment, preventing access to the building until security personnel can arrive.


How much security do turnstiles and security entrances require?


It depends on your building type – public, private, military – as well as the through-put capacity you need. Typically, the levels of building security will be designed in layers with the most robust measures taken to protect the most sensitive or valued areas of the building. If the building is private or military, even the outermost areas should be highly secure. Generally, when it comes to revolving door or turnstile security entrances, levels of protection are designated as High, Medium and Low. A higher security level is inversely related to the need for security personnel. 


High Security refers to preventing access and requires few or zero personnel.

Medium Security refers to detecting access and alerting additional personnel.

Low Security refers to deterring intruders with the presence of a barrier and personnel.


Are swing turnstiles the same as half height or optical turnstiles?


Technically, no. Swing turnstiles refers to a single arm barrier attached to a hinged post or cabinet. Some companies refer to these as metal turnstiles but these barrier panels can also be made from glass or polycarbonates. Swing turnstiles are often used for ADA compliance as the single cabinet allows for a wider pass-through opening typically required by a wheelchair.


What are the advantages of optical turnstiles?


Optical security turnstiles not only provide faster pass through rates but they can be deployed in multiple units for extremely busy buildings with high through-put requirements. Optical turnstiles also have security options like anti-piggybacking alarms.


Are security turnstiles expensive?


Optical turnstiles and full height, anti-piggy-backing turnstile gates are often more expensive than traditional tripod turnstiles. For one, there is simply more material used to make a full height turnstile and more manufacturing and technology to build two cabinets in the case of optical turnstiles. However, it is important to understand that optical and full height turnstiles as well as security revolving doors require far less, and in many cases, no human personnel, allowing buildings to allocate security to other areas and reduce labor costs. Using fewer personnel is a financial savings that often pays for the installation cost within just a few years. And, optical turnstiles never get distracted during influxes of large, fast moving crowds.


Many of the manufacturers featured on Protogetic also offer factory authorized turnstile installers to make your security investment even easier to implement. With one click, you can begin directly messaging with the vendor representative of your choosing. Sign up for free today and skip the hassle of endless searching.