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    Security Entrances


    While “security entrance” seems like a generic term that can be applied to both interior and exterior access control points, Protogetic defines a security entrance as a monitored or controlled entryway into and out of a building. This can be an entry door on the building envelope that leads into the lobby. Or it can also specify a monitored passageway inside the lobby that prevents entry deeper into the building by preventing access to elevators and/or upper floors.


    Why are building security entrances important?


    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 Artificial Intelligence (AI) video monitoring and/or “old school” demarcation deterrents like high security fence barriers, as well as hostile vehicle mitigation provided by active barriers that can stop speeding cars and trucks from ramming into pedestrians and buildings. But keeping unwanted intruders out of the exterior premises is only part of the responsibility in designing a perimeter security plan. 


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


    How do security entrances work?


    Security entrances, such as turnstiles, revolving doors and mantraps, provide building entry 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.


    What types of security entrances are there?


    The most common types of security entrances that control access into a building and lobby from the outside are revolving doors and swing doors. Many retail locations use automatic sliding doors. Security entrances that control access inside the building envelope (lobby) include:


    Full height turnstiles

    Half height or Optical turnstiles

    Tripod turnstiles

    Mantrap portals


    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 underground parking or loading areas or a an entrance to a building through a revolving door, security entrances are critical components of every protective design.  


    Where are security entrances used?


    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 without authorization? Or, is it a public building catering to large numbers of people coming and going like a department store, 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 checkpoint. 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 and doors which can identify authorized personnel and grant access using biometrics or card reader technology.


    What is a security revolving door?


    A revolving door is installed half on the outside of the building envelope and half inside it. The glass “wings” of the door create occupant compartments that revolve 360 degrees – thus providing optimal bi-directional ingress and egress. While the exterior side of the revolving door has some exposure to the elements, there is actually very little loss of hot (or cold) air as each compartment only briefly allows exterior exposure.  Revolving doors can be manual or powered and can be freely accessed or require some type of entry permission/identification. They also can utilize anti-tailgating and anti-piggybacking technology to detect and even detain unauthorized occupants.


    What is a half-height turnstile?


    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, sports venue or amusement park. A tripod turnstile has three barrier arms extending from a single cabinet. Each arm rotates 120 degrees to each person entering. Modern versions can employ card readers or biometrics instead of tokens. Half height turnstiles, whether tripod or optical, can be vulnerable to intruders jumping or climbing over them.


    Are optical turnstiles the same as tripod turnstiles?


    Not exactly. 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. 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.


    What is a full height turnstile?


    Full height turnstiles are turnstiles that reach overhead -- floor to ceiling. They can be designed for either exterior use in concert with a fence line or gate – or – they can be used for interior building entrances and exits. Like optical turnstiles, full height turnstile gates also can be equipped with security options like anti-tailgating or anti-piggybacking technology. Because it is very difficult, if not impossible, to climb over a full height turnstile, these entrances are very secure.


    What is a mantrap portal?


    A mantrap is a type of security entrance with interlocking doors. To visualize this mechanism, think of any space movie with “air lock” doors. The outer door opens allowing entry while the inner door remains locked. After the outer door closes, only then can the inner door be opened. In the case of building security, proper identification or access codes/cards must be used to open each successive door.  Opening of doors can be controlled automatically or by using a manned operator.


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


    Technically, no. A swing or swing arm turnstile is a single arm barrier attached to a hinged post or single cabinet. Some companies refer to these as “ADA gates” as they are often used for ADA compliance as the single cabinet allows for a wider pass-through opening typically required by a wheelchair.


    What is tailgating?


    Tailgating 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 person follows them inside before the door closes. 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 or when a second person tries to squeeze in through an optical turnstile. 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 personnel do 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 using a barrier and more personnel.


    Are security turnstiles expensive?


    Optical turnstiles and full height turnstiles with 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. This allows building management to shift security to other more important areas. Using fewer personnel is a financial savings that often pays for the installation cost within a few years. And, optical turnstiles never get distracted during influxes of large, fast moving crowds.


    Where can you shop for security entrances?


    Protogetic has security entrances and access control systems from many of the top manufacturers in the industry. Our exclusive search filter finds the exact turnstile or revolving door you need instantly. You can download technical documents and even ask factory sales reps direct questions using our “CONTACT MANUFACTURER” button. Many companies also offer factory authorized turnstile installers to make your security investment even easier to implement. Sign up for free today and skip the hassle of endless searching. Shop for security revolving doors and turnstiles now!