Closing the door on unauthorised access

February 2007 Access Control & Identity Management

Question: When is door not a door? Answer: When it is ajar.

Although it sounds like something out of a Christmas cracker, this old chestnut highlights the fact that a door is only secure when it is closed and locked. Open it and any number of people can come and go as they please. The two great advantages of a turnstile over a door or gate are that a turnstile limits access to one person at a time; and can control both entry and exit. This is why turnstiles are such an effective component of any system that seeks to manage pedestrian access. The best units on the market are compatible with all forms of access and T&A systems, operating with anything from simple pushbutton controls to the most sophisticated biometric systems.

Modern turnstiles are being increasingly used in commercial buildings to provide varying levels of secure access, with a diversity of applications ranging from perimeters and reception areas to computer rooms and canteens. Specific types of turnstile are designed to meet not only the needs of security but also aesthetics. For example, a full-height turnstile that is suitable for controlling perimeter access is not going to be appropriate for a reception area that has been designed to reflect a corporate image and a welcoming environment for staff and visitors. So what are the main types of turnstiles used in commercial buildings and what needs do they meet?

The balance between appearance and security

Sid Sacks of turnstile manufacturer, Turnstar, explains: "For commercial environments, turnstiles can be roughly divided into two categories, those that look good and those that provide higher levels of security. In a building's reception area, appearance is typically more important than security. That is why our half-height glass turnstile and our waist-height turnstiles are in such demand. However, when the demands of security and appearance are more equal, then the answer is our Triton full height glass turnstile."

Turnstar's Streamline offers a design alternative to the company's glass turnstiles and is SA's most popular unit for reception areas.

Beyond reception areas, Sacks says that appearance tends to be less significant and greater emphasis is placed on managing access more securely. "Controlling pedestrian access on perimeters and at main entrances are good examples of this. For these applications, conventional full height turnstiles are the norm since they offer higher security than a waist height or glass turnstile. In instances where appearance is still a priority, we offer units in a range of powder coated finishes - perhaps to match corporate colours - or in polished stainless steel."

Maximum security

The ultimate in turnstile security comes in the form of the Turnstar Tribune, a unit designed specifically for use with biometric identification systems to give the highest levels of securely managed access. The unit differs from conventional full height turnstiles in that it works with a single reader mounted inside the turnstile to handle both entry and exit. Sacks readily admits that, "This is not a pretty unit. But when it comes to security, the Tribune gives nothing away. Used in conjunction with highly competent biometrics it forms a formidable barrier."


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