In today’s civilized society the art and science of protecting ourselves and our properties from harm has evolved considerably. Just look at the numbers, variety, and types of doors, locks, alarms systems, video monitoring devices, and other technology designed specifically to keep us safe and protect our privacy and personal property/vehicles. The technology and industry that came up around residential and commercial security and entrance control is enormous. In the balance of this article, we want to take a closer look specifically at commercial property security entrance control, a growing and ever-changing business.
The first commercial buildings probably had basic hinged doors and simple deadbolt locks. During the workdays we know that these doors would normally be open and would typically be staffed by a doorman or security person, or maybe not. Until recent time many lobbies and entrances (even the big cities like New York) would have an open access lobby, possibly with a registration/security desk to help direct visitors. Even as recently as the late 1990’s, some of the most secure buildings had very little in terms of security technology, preferring instead to use security officers to check credentials as pedestrians pass by toward the elevators. But the drastic improvements and interest in access control over the past 50 years has allowed more focus on the technology of entrance control.
What is Entrance Control?
Entrance control can be seen as a subset of the larger access control industry. Access Control refers to the concept and business of protecting premises and information from unauthorized persons. It encompasses all the technology and hardware of card readers, door strikes, specially developed software, intelligent video and entrance control equipment. Entrance control includes all the secure doors, turnstiles, optical lanes, and security portals that operate within access control systems. The business of access control has grown considerably over the past 20 years, certainly a business that can be measured in the billions of dollars.
In our definition, entrance control includes all of the products that you think of for security entrances:
- Security Revolving Doors
- Security Portals (“man traps”)
- Waist High and Full Height Turnstiles, and
- Optical Turnstiles (with/without barrier arms, wings or panels)
All of these products have various uses to stop tailgating and piggybacking and their appropriate applications depending on security level desired, necessary throughput, architectural needs, proximity to staffed location, and architectural/design influences.
Some of the trends that have influenced the interest and growth of entrance control in recent years include; Employers’ increasing concerns to provide a safe workplace for their staff, terrorism threat, and the possibility domestic disputes carrying over to the workplace. In addition, technology has changed to the point where integrating a good entrance control system with the building’s access control environment is much simpler and seamless. The events of September 11, 2001 increased the interest and urgency of entrance control as responsible building owners and corporate leaders realized the need to know “who is getting in.”
History & Types
It seems that the earliest use of entrance control equipment dates back to the late 19th century. The first entrance control devices were likely the simple “ballpark-type” mechanical turnstiles. They evolved from the agriculture industry, where “stiles” were used to allow humans to pass while keeping sheep or other livestock penned in. Turnstiles use ratchet mechanisms to allow the rotation of the stile in one direction, or to allow just one person at a time. They were some of the earliest security entrance control devices, and modern versions are still used extensively today.
Optical turnstiles operate much like regular mechanical turnstiles, except that they rely primarily on electronic ( infrared ) beams, and audible/visual interfaces to control entry. Rather than physically restraining a person, the optical turnstile uses sounds and lights to alert others to attempted entry by unauthorized individuals. They are also suitable for the handicapped in that they are barrier free. Some reports credit the first “optical turnstiles” to Omega Corporate Security of Walnut Creek, California, where they were developed for Charles Schwab Co. in San Francisco.
Security revolving doors sprung from the revolving door industry. Revolving doors came into use in around the start of the 20th century. Some reports say that the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia may have had the very first revolving door (or “revolving storm door” as it was originally named). Others claim the original revolver was at a restaurant in Manhattan’s Times Square in 1899. Security revolving doors require security authorization (by card or other credential) prior to allowing passage.
The roots of security portals go back to “man traps’ that were used is the early 1800’s to catch poachers and trespassers. Today’s security portals are based on a 2-door design which requires strict credentialing and single person authorizing before a person can gain access to the secure area.
Using it Today
Practically every commercial office building has installed some form of entrance control, particularly if an access control system is in place. Entrance control systems help protect the building occupants, provide a secure and safe workplace, probably also improve the desirability of an employer’s workplace. Today’s products are aesthetically pleasing, provide various levels of security, and are easily integrated with all forms of access control and authentication methods (access card, biometrics, PIN code, etc.).
There are a variety of experienced manufacturers of entrance control equipment to complement your access control system. Choose from a selection of quality products in an appropriate style and configuration to help you know “who is getting in?”
Contact your local integrated security provider for recommendations.