Turnstiles: What are their uses and how do they improve crowd management


Turnstiles are an effective, economical, flexible and robust way of controlling pedestrians. They are particularly useful in environments where space is at a premium. Modern turnstiles are designed to be totally safe as well as simple and convenient. They are therefore an excellent solution for businesses of all sizes.

Controlling the flow of traffic

The classic use case for turnstiles is in places where businesses need to control the flow of traffic. Turnstiles act as effective barriers but take up hardly any space. Unlike rising-arm barriers, pedestrians can’t just duck underneath them.

In principle, many pedestrians could jump over standard, half-height turnstiles. If this is a serious concern, businesses could install full-height ones instead. Generally, however, the likelihood of turnstiles being breached in this way is minimal.

Firstly, it takes more effort than a lot of people are willing to make. Secondly, jumping a turnstile is highly visible. It will attract the attention of any staff in the vicinity. It may also draw a negative response from other people in the area.

Turnstiles are very simple to operate so they can be used by just about anyone. With that said, they generally need to be partnered with an alternative way of getting through the barrier to accommodate people who can’t use them. For example, people with service dogs are unlikely to be able to use turnstiles safely.

Automating security checks

In private locations, such as businesses, it’s increasingly common for turnstiles to be equipped with security readers. These can read access cards and/or biometric data. This can do a lot to take the load off your human security staff and free them up for more value-add tasks.

Lucinda Thorpe, Business Development Executive at Newgate commented, “At a more basic level, turnstiles can also be a useful visual deterrent. Most security ultimately boils down to making yourself more hassle than you’re worth to attack. Even half-height turnstiles are often enough to make would-be attackers think twice about making a run at you. Full-height turnstiles are an even stronger deterrent.”

If you want to make your turnstiles even more of a problem to attackers, you can have them monitored by CCTV (while respecting GDPR). This serves two purposes. Firstly, it means that anyone who breaches the barrier can expect to have their image taken. Secondly, it means that they can expect to be tracked and intercepted.

Automating payment checks

On a similar note, turnstiles are very useful for enforcing payment rules. Probably the most obvious example of this is their deployment in public-transport stations around the world. They can, however, be useful in any location where there is a split between free and paid-for areas, for example, event venues.

Keeping tabs on numbers

Even basic turnstiles can be equipped with counters to give you an accurate count of how many people are in an area. This can be used as a common-sense check if you need to evacuate. Security turnstiles equipped with access controls can tell you not just how many people are in an area but who they are.

The data produced by turnstiles can be analysed to progress business goals. One obvious example of this is setting pricing structures. For example, if you detect that significant numbers of people are going through a turnstile at a particular time, you could opt to raise pricing at that time to limit the flow.

You could also offer discounts to people who pay in advance and/or take out subscriptions. This would allow people who really need to use the service at that time to do so more economically plus give you a reliable income stream. This strategy is widely used by public-transport providers and adapts well to many environments.

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About the Author: Lucinda Thorpe