Optical Turnstiles — A Great Choice for Today’s Recreation Center


Universities and colleges are committed to providing modern recreation facilities for students, faculty and alumni. To control access into recreation facilities, many schools are turning to optical turnstiles.

Consider these questions when choosing an optical turnstile:

  • Does it provide the features, functionality and security level desired?
  • Will it integrate with student ID and membership software?
  • Does it enhance facility aesthetics?
  • Does it fit within your budget?

Automated Access Control

Optical turnstiles automate the access process. Instead of relying on attendants to review entry credentials, optical turnstiles allow users to present credentials directly at the turnstiles. They also provide operational flexibility. For example, optical turnstiles can be set for card entry/free exit. When exiting, users simply walk into the passage lane and the panels open automatically.

Improved Security

Optical turnstiles detect and deter unauthorized entries. Turnstiles limit passage to authorized users, providing better accountability for the facility.  Some turnstiles have enhanced detection features that detect unauthorized access attempts and tailgating on a valid entry. Utilizing turnstiles with taller panels deters students from trying to jump over barriers.

Simplified Integration

Most turnstiles will allow use of existing University ID cards and integrate easily with existing membership and visitor management systems. Turnstiles also provide advanced integration features. For example, a dedicated input for fire and safety systems allows turnstile barriers to open automatically and stay open in the event of an emergency situation.


Instead of a bulky cabinet and rotating arms, optical turnstiles enhance the aesthetics of today’s beautiful facilities.  Among other things, optical turnstiles can incorporate LED lighting in campus colors, and logos etched into moving and static clear panels.


Optical turnstiles are initially more expensive than traditional three-arm turnstiles but can often be the right choice. The right turnstile will provide years of trouble-free operation and serve as an inviting entry point to a very important part of the campus.


When considering options to improve physical security and enhance the entry/exit process at your recreation center, optical turnstiles should be at the top of the list. They improve security and integrate easily with the facility access control and visitor management systems. There are a number of models that provide features and options that enhance both the security and look of today’s modern facility.


Nick Simon, the National Sales Manager of Security Products at Alvarado has worked in the physical security products industry for over 14 years.  Nick has been involved in numerous of university recreation center projects. He can be reached at 800-423-4143 or at nsimon@alvaradomfg.com 

Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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