How to secure your location without on-site staff

We live in a connected world, where it is now usual for people to attend their work meeting using Zoom or Teams, rather than the car or train. Digitising your security guard might seem harder, but in fact it is increasingly normal for locations to be secured without onsite staff.

Why the problem arises

The highest level of security can’t be achieved without a human presence, but only a minority of customers fit into that category. Many would wish to achieve reasonable protection without specialist staff. Three patterns are mainly seen:

  • Lower security locations that hope to avoid on-site security staff entirely
  • Medium security environments that have security staff, but can’t maintain them round the clock, and want a reactive security response after hours
  • Locations that do have lobby staff, but wish to add monitored access points elsewhere, without staff needed throughout the building; typically this means those wanting an additional layer of protection for the most sensitive parts of their site

Many organisations fall into one or other category. Offices are mostly used in the daytime, but few employers with day security staff would want to rule out the occasional late worker or early bird. It’s now common for commercial outlets like gyms to offer 24/7 access, too. Student facilities such as libraries are a category where we often see customers wishing to permit late or all-hours access. Data centres, offices that handle confidential information and government facilities can wish to zone their location, with a higher level of protection where it’s most needed.

Authorise, deter, detect, alert

Any unstaffed entrance control solution relies on these steps:

  • Authorise valid users only
  • Deter intruders by giving them a visible reason to skip the attempt at your location
  • Detect the determined ones who persist
  • Alert someone that an intrusion is happening


Fastlane turnstiles don’t come with one predetermined solution for credential checking. Industry-standard communications protocols are used, and allow any option you prefer. Whether you want a contactless fingerprint solution, facial recognition, smart cards or QR codes emailed to visitors’ phones, readers can be fitted to process as appropriate.

For more information on credentials and some of the other concepts under discussion, you might find it useful to check our glossary of security terms.


The mere presence of a turnstile is much more effective than is sometimes realised. Casual or opportunistic wrongdoers will see it as an indicator that security is in place here, and may well be aware of the measures we describe below, knowing they will be or might be encountered.

In practice the larger, full height units create the maximum psychological deterrence. If you feel you need that, consider something like our Glassgate 300 or Glassgate 400. The latter’s bigger cousin, the Glassgate 400 Plus is the very largest option in our Speedgate range.


Here are some of the unauthorised entry attempts that Fastlane turnstiles can detect automatically:

  • Tailgating. Piggybacking or tailgating means following someone through the turnstile after they have presented a valid credential. Our optical-only turnstiles and also our physical ones cast a matrix of infrared beams, and the pattern of interruptions is used to tell how many people are passing.
  • Sidegating. Similar to tailgating, this is the scenario where two people attempt to walk side by side through a wide lane together, on one credential. Our systems use proprietary algorithms to analyse infrared beam interruptions.
  • Crawling: The same optical element can detect anyone trying to climb under the turnstile
  • Climbing: pressure sensors are used to detect any climbing attempts. This is also deterred by selecting a larger unit.
  • Passback: If someone goes through the access control point and then hands their credential to a second person, the system will refuse the second attempt to offer the same ID
  • Pushing: Optional locking brakes will make the units almost impossible to force, but not all customers choose a completely hard barrier. Either way, the turnstile will certainly recognise successful and unsuccessful attempts at pushing through.


The final step is to tell a human that the problem exists. This need not be in real time. For lower security environments, it may be sufficient for CCTV to collect evidence of the event for staff to review when they are next available. Alerts can easily be sent directly, however, either to the app of some staff member, or to an offsite security team.

Security in practice

We partnered with CCTV and monitoring specialists Professional Surveillance Management (PSM) to support their offering GymSafe with our entrance control systems. GymSafe allows unstaffed leisure facilities to open late or all hours. PSM’s team mans a control room 24/7, monitoring multiple locations efficiently. The security system alerts staff to any intrusion, typically delivering a recorded vocal warning on site at the same time. Alerted staff can step up to a live vocal interaction or a call to police.

We frequently partner with AdvaNova who offer products specifically for use in academic libraries. For the University of Sunderland, we installed our smaller Glassgate 150 turnstiles and AdvaNova’s Juno software. The combination allowed students and staff to use the university’s two libraries round the clock, while keeping the locations and users safe.

To find out more about IDL’s Fastlane range, or to request a demo or a tour of our London facility, please call +44 (0)208 890 5550 or email to