what is a turnstile


What is a Turnstile and How Does it Work?

Have you ever seen a turnstile while entering or exiting a stadium or a train station? A turnstile is a security mechanism through which people can enter or exit a restricted area one by one. It is increasingly becoming popular in venues with large crowds, including concert venues, sports arenas, and mass transit systems. This article will answer the question - what is a turnstile? - and explain how it works.

What is a Turnstile?

A turnstile is a mechanical barrier that allows only one person to pass through it at a time. It consists of several rotating arms that block the passage of entry or exit. Most turnstiles are made of steel, though some can be made from other materials such as aluminum, glass, or wood. There are two major types of turnstiles - waist-high and full-height turnstiles.

Waist-high turnstiles are often used in airports, subways, swimming pools, and gyms. They are designed to make it difficult for people to jump or crawl over them. The arms of a waist-high turnstile are usually around waist height and are operated by a mechanical or electronically controlled system.

Full-height turnstiles are often used in high-security locations, such as prisons, courtrooms, and research facilities. They are designed to be more intimidating and harder to breach than waist-high turnstiles. They are also operated by a mechanical or electronic system.

How Does a Turnstile Work?

When you approach a turnstile, you will find a series of arms blocking your way. When you insert your ticket, ID or your face in front of a facial recognition reader, the turnstile releases one of the arms, allowing you to pass. After you pass through the turnstile, the arm will lock back in place, preventing anyone from entering or exiting without proper permission.

Some turnstiles, such as those used in airports, use sensors that can detect if someone is trying to crawl over or under them. If the sensor detects someone trying to enter illegally, an alarm will be raised. In other cases, turnstiles are equipped with cameras that can identify people who are trying to gain access using stolen or counterfeit tickets.

Advantages of Turnstiles

Turnstiles are increasingly popular in high-traffic areas because they offer several advantages over other security measures. These include:

1. Crowd Management: Turnstiles can efficiently control the flow of people into and out of an area. They can also prevent overcrowding, which is essential in maintaining public safety.

2. Cost-Effective: Turnstiles often cost much less than other security measures, such as manned checkpoints or electronic gates. Their installation and maintenance expenses can be minimal compared to other security systems.

3. Deterrent to Crime: Turnstiles are a powerful deterrent to crime as they are difficult to breach without proper authorization. The knowledge that a turnstile is in place often discourages criminal activity.

4. Reliable: Turnstiles are very reliable and can operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can also be programmed to display custom messages that can be used to communicate important information or directions.

5. Enhanced Intelligence: Modern turnstiles come equipped with data collection and analytics capabilities. This intelligence can be utilized for trend analysis, real-time monitoring, and operational efficiency improvements.


A turnstile is a simple yet effective security solution that is becoming increasingly popular in high-traffic venues. It offers a low-cost, reliable, and efficient way to control the flow of people into and out of an area. With technology continuously evolving, modern turnstiles are becoming more intelligent, further bolstering their effectiveness in protecting and securing public areas.


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