Optical Turnstiles- Controlling Access In Commercial Buildings
Since 9/11, commercial buildings, institutions and government agencies have been grappling to find cost effective and aesthetically pleasing ways to control access to their buildings. For most small buildings, it’s not a problem. Small buildings can effectively handle the problem be placing card readers on exterior doors. However, with large, busy buildings, the same approach is impractical. Piggybacking (holding the door open for the person behind you) is the major security breakdown problem in high-traffic areas such as the main entrance.
In the past, there have been two ways to effectively manage access in high-traffic buildings. The first is manual verification. With manual verification, all persons requesting entry to the building must show a valid identification badge to a security guard before entry is granted. Unfortunately, this approach is costly and provides a relatively low level of security. The use of security guards is just plain expensive. More important, security guards cannot know for certain whether identification badges are authentic (which is no difficult to do these days) or whether familiar faces are still employed with a company.
One practical solution to providing secure, high-traffic access control in the lobby of a busy building is to use Optical Turnstiles. An Optical Turnstile system is a set of parallel pedestals that form lanes. Each pedestal is equipped with electronic photobeams and a logic board. Typically, Optical Turnstiles are located in a pivotal main lobby location. To gain access to the interior of the building, an authorized person presents their valid access card to a card reader located at the turnstile lane. A valid access granted temporarily shunts out the turnstile’s photobeam, allowing the cardholder to pass through without creating an alarm. Attempting to pass through a lane without a valid access card activates a local and remote alarm, alerting security.
Reasons Behind the Trend
Optical Turnstiles are becoming more common fixture in lobbies for several reasons. First, they can be covered with any type of finish (from stainless steel to Corian), complementing lobby decor. Second, they can securely handle heavy traffic-a typical Optical Turnstile lane can process 1,200 to 1,800 people per hour. Third, they help limit your liability by allowing you to screen for authorized personnel only. This means persons without a valid card cannot access your facility without setting off an alarm and drawing attention. Given current legal trends, more companies will be using this approach to reduce their liability exposure.
Finally, Optical turnstiles provide superior visitor management, forcing every visitor to register with your security or reception desk. Breaching building security through “piggybacking” becomes almost impossible.
Three Rules to Follow
When designing your system, the length of the turnstile pedestals should be four to six feet (anything less than four feet can increase the incidence of false alarms). Second, design your system with enough lanes to handle your worst-case scenario-rush hour. Finally, use off-the-shelf designs for the pedestals-architects love to come up with elaborate designs, but they don’t have to foot the bill.