In a recent article published on the Yahoo Finance blog, journalist Joel Anderson gave us a rare look at a part of consumerist America that we rarely get to see. For, while flashy strip malls and flamboyant multiplexes abound, a small percentage of these buildings is singing its swansong. Whether due to a poor choice of location, new competition or recessionary pressures, some retailers are simply unable to stand the test of time.
In spite of this, the retail sector is booming not only in the United States, but right here in South Africa. Indeed, commercial development as a whole has come back swinging following some turbulent times for the property market, with the commercial sector seeing a steady uptick in recent years. As social ecosystems continue to form around commercial and industrial hubs, property developers and security integrators are faced with the increasingly difficult task of managing access to sites with complex demands from a security standpoint.
For many organisations, security is the linchpin holding the enterprise together, informing virtually every aspect of its day-to-day functioning. And, while security technology has undergone countless evolutionary (and revolutionary) changes over the years, turnstiles remain an absolute staple of pedestrian access control in commercial environments.
American grocer Clarence Saunders, known for developing the modern retail model, used turnstiles in their current incarnation in the first Piggly Wiggly supermarket, which opened in September 2016. These devices helped to pave the way for true self-service stores; customers would enter the store through a turnstile, walk through four aisles, pick their groceries themselves, then proceed to the pay point.
Turnstiles have come a long way since the relatively basic version used by Saunders in his Piggly Wiggly chain of supermarkets, and contemporary models are as technologically advanced as they are versatile, offering seamless integration with other access control systems such as card readers and biometric scanners.
Over time, turnstiles have proven to be among the most versatile and widely used pedestrian access control systems on the market today. From a security standpoint, turnstiles help to prevent unauthorised access of people and provide a physical barrier that can only be bypassed upon the presentation of valid credentials, usually by means of an integrated access control system such as the ones mentioned above. Since turnstiles allow only one person at a time to pass through, they are highly effective in reducing pedestrian “tailgating”, whereby an unauthorised person follows an authorised individual into a secured area.
Their effectiveness and popularity as a crowd-controlling device have led to the implementation of turnstiles in virtually every setting requiring the regulation of pedestrian traffic, including sports stadiums, music venues, university campuses, gyms, factories and even night clubs. For many businesses, turnstiles – when combined with access control equipment such as card and/or biometric readers – provide the perfect solution for time management of staff by capturing important data such as time of arrival and departure, location of entry, etcetera. Some of the newer models can also be combined with breathalysers, which help to prevent intoxicated individuals from entering their work stations and operating potentially dangerous machinery, thereby not only endangering their own lives, but the lives of co-workers.
Different types of turnstiles
Like the majority of access control systems, turnstiles come in many different shapes and sizes offering varying degrees of security. Full-height turnstiles, for example, offer a higher level of security since they close off the entire space between the floor and the ceiling and therefore cannot be scaled (climbed over), making them ideal for high-risk settings such as factories.
Waist-height variants, on the other hand, consist of a tripod barrier arm installed, as the name suggests, at waist-height. Suitable for low- to medium-security environments, waist-height turnstiles generally come in at a lower price point and require less time and labour to install. In addition, waist-height turnstiles are designed for streamlined entry and enhanced throughput, lending themselves to increased operational efficiency in settings such as sports stadiums.
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