Turnstile technology – centuries of development

04 Mar 2022
BY Zicam Integrated Security Ltd

Turnstile technology – centuries of development

We’ve all seen pedestrian turnstiles. The chances are you pass through one every day when you go to work, and again when you enter the train station, and when you go to a football match. We’ve all been through one type or another hundreds of times in our everyday lives. Over the years, the technology that is used in turnstiles has gone from the basic push-through mechanisms to including built-in advanced technology like facial recognition and body temperature access systems.

We see them everywhere from local businesses to sports stadiums and huge distribution centres. But have you ever thought about why turnstiles were developed and how old the concept is?

From stile to turnstile

It’s widely believed that it was farmers who first introduced the concept through the invention of the stile as far back as the 16th century. Simple wooden structures of steps and posts started to appear across the countryside to give pedestrians access to pasture whilst keeping livestock safely confined to a specific space.

But then someone decided to take it further. By removing the steps from the stile and installing a wooden post with a cross placed flat across the top and adding a rotation device to allow it to spin, the first turnstile was invented. Genius!

Why have turnstiles now?

We’ve moved on a bit from just using turnstiles to allow access to countryside. Businesses and venues across the UK have them installed from a security and safety perspective. Among the many reasons to use this technology my personal top 10 are:

  1. Controlling who has access to a site
  2. Identifying the people who are using the turnstile for access
  3. Restricting the number of people who can access a venue at one time
  4. Improved security
  5. Easy access and exit control in an emergency situation
  6. Monitoring how often a person uses the turnstile
  7. Validating the credentials of the user
  8. Managing the flow of foot traffic
  9. Providing a visual deterrent (particularly the full height turnstiles)
  10. Enforces one-way pedestrian traffic

In my opinion, when it comes to ‘door versus turnstile’, the turnstile is a clear winner. As well as providing top-class protection, they also offer flexibility and increased security when integrated with other on-site security systems.

There is a variety of different turnstiles that have been designed for a whole spectrum of site and business requirements, but two of the most common (and effective) that Zicam most frequently install and maintain are single rotor and twin rotor turnstiles. Both are full height with the single rotor allowing one person access at a time and twin allowing two: this dual aspect means that faster pedestrian access can be allowed when needed, for example, at a stadium where large crowds need to be controlled.

Integrated technology

As with most things there’s safety in numbers and a security system is no different. When you integrate systems, or add on technology, you increase the protection of your site, your people and your assets. Did you know that they can also work with CCTV and other access control? Here are just a few of the benefits of integration:

  • Combined with anti-pass-back access control the turnstile can prevent the same access card being used within a 3 minute window. This prevents two people using the same card.
  • Biometric access control (fingerprint or facial recognition) is a ‘safety first’ touchless technology that guarantees the person using the turnstile is authorised to do so.
  • If you integrate a turnstile with intercom access and CCTV you can ask to see credentials and verify the face matches the picture before releasing the turnstile and allowing them access.

There are huge benefits to adding turnstiles to your perimeter protection solution. Hopefully, I’ve laid out some useful information here to get you started, but if you need any help, or would like to have a survey done of your site, why not give us a call?

Bradley Ellis, Gate Automation Engineer, Zicam Integrated Security Limited

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