Like high security doors, turnstile access control systems allow people to enter and exit security checkpoints inside a building. Typically, turnstile entrances are deployed in the building's lobby. Turnstiles can be half height (sometimes called waist-high) or full height (floor to ceiling). There are several types of half height turnstiles, including:
Speed gate turnstiles
High-rise office buildings with heavy pedestrian traffic inside are prime candidates for half height turnstiles. Frequently, half height turnstiles are placed in the lobby in order to create a layer of security by preventing unfettered access to stairwells and elevator banks. Other types of locations include:
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 their favorite ride at the amusement park. A tripod turnstile has three barrier arms where each arm rotates 120 degrees from a single cabinet allowing one person to pass at a time. Modern versions now activate opening using paper tickets, biometrics or security cards.
Optical turnstiles differ from the three-arm rotating “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. Each cabinet has a barrier door or wing that blocks entry until the proper access identification triggers 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 (including tailgating), the two barrier arms will not open and an alarm is triggered.
Optical security turnstiles provide faster throughput rates and can be deployed in multiple units for extremely busy buildings with high traffic requirements. While optical turnstiles have a low profile that looks aesthetically pleasing in a lobby area, they also are susceptible to being jumped over or even crawled under. To combat this, there are now “crawl over” alarms as well as other security options like anti-piggybacking detection.
In the simplest terms, throughput is how many people enter or leave the building during a specific time period. Throughput measures how much pedestrian traffic your building will need to accommodate. This can dramatically influence what type of security entrance you select as well as how many turnstiles you need to handle peak ingress and egress times of day in order to prevent long wait times.
While speed gates are often referred interchangeably with optical turnstiles, they technically describe a type of barrier-less optical turnstile, meaning they record entry and exit but have no barrier wings between the cabinets to prevent passage. These turnstiles can also be called “speed lanes” and their advantage is a high throughput rate that averages around 30-60 ppm depending on the make and model. When an unauthorized person passes through a speed gate, an alarm sounds to alert security personnel. Speed gates as thus not as secure as optical turnstiles with winged barriers.
Optical turnstiles are often more expensive than traditional half height tripod turnstiles. For one, there is simply more material and more technology (infrared sensors) required to build and install two cabinets. However, it is important to understand that optical turnstiles, as well as security revolving doors and full height turnstiles, often require far less, and in some 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 a few years.
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