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Smart Buildings Report 2: Prudent Flow of Visitors, Assets & People - Connected Elevators, Lobby Screening A.I., Delivery Robots and Smart Indoor Navigation

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With the emergence of Covid-19, the most visited places in a building - the lobby and the elevators - have become the frontline in a building's pandemic defence.
connected elevator iot platform
Elevator IoT Platform (Image credit:
In this report, we explore various topics (below) on how robotics and IoT can enhance the flow of things and people in buildings for both operational efficiency and effective pandemic response.
  1. Connected Elevators
  2. "LobbyTech" : Frontline Robots & IoT for Lobbies
  3. Indoor Delivery Robots
  4. Intelligence for Safe Indoor Navigation


Elevators are the spines of buildings, enabling indoor mobility for billions of people and goods everyday. With such high daily traffic, the surfaces within elevators, from lift buttons, to handrails to wall panels, become high-risk sources of microbial transmission from one person to another.
Today, most building operators have begun to apply anti-microbial coating on both lift buttons that are resistant to daily scrubbing and cleaning. New elevator models, such as the KONE DX Class elevators, have also come ready with durable anti-microbial powder-paint coating on their handrail to curb the spread of microbes.
Traditionally, the elevator system is a standalone and opaque closed system. Beyond the role of vertical transport, elevators rarely interoperate with other building systems.
However, this is beginning to change. As buildings become smarter through digitalization, smart building practitioners are increasingly pushing for higher convergence and interoperability. Elevators have to become smarter too.
In fact, the spinal role of elevators itself is a critical enabler for smarter operations and processes in buildings. Today, most of the top elevator companies have developed smart elevator solutions that are connected to the cloud to facilitate data sharing and interoperability.
Connected elevators can interoperate with robots and enable robots to travel autonomously to any floor, expanding the scope of robotic functions in buildings. When integrated with user identity systems, elevators can be "sub-conscious" conduits, automatically tranporting identified users to their destinations without the need to press a button. When an elevator is temporarily suspended from service, digital signage systems can help direct users to other lobbies to mitigate the inconvenience.
One way to achieve this level of interoperability is for elevator companies to provide open application programming interfaces (APIs) to their lifts and cultive an open ecosystem of solution partners to realize these diverse service possibilities of a smart elevator.
KONE has one of the most developed elevator API programs since 2018, featuring an Elevator Call API that enable applications to make an elevator call to KONE elevators, an Equipment Status API that enables applications to query equipment status information and a Service Robot API to facilitate autonomous travel for robots between floors.
KONE Connected Elevators
KONE has also been cultivating an ecosystem of partners that leverage its APIs to deliver innovative services. MIPSoft, one of the KONE ecosystem partners, is the developer of BlindSquare, a navigation app for the visually impaired that uses the KONE Elevator Call API to make elevator calls and intelligently notify its users when the elevator doors are open. Other ecosystem partners include Robotise and Savioke, providers of service and delivery robots which can now navigate autonomously across different floors using KONE elevators with the help of the Service Robot API.
A core benefit of connected elevators or elevator IoT is the collection of operational big data that can be analyzed to develop better lifts and enhance lift efficiencies. One major application is developing predictive AI or analytics to provide smart preventive maintenance for lifts.
By analyzing big data on the operational usage of lift components and sub-systems, elevators can now be maintained intelligently on an as-needed basis, instead of the usual time-interval basis, saving costs and unnecessary downtime for building stakeholders.
As part of its digital strategy, Schindler launched the Schindler Ahead platform in 2017, as an elevator IoT platform that connects its elevators and escalators to its GE Prefix-powered cloud platform.
Schindler Ahead
By extensively collecting operational data on its cloud, Schindler Ahead provides advanced analytics that is able to predictively identify, analyze and resolve potential service issues before they occur, ensuring higher reliability and uptime for its elevators and escalators. The Schindler Ahead dashboards also provide building owners and facility managers with access to operational, performance and commercial data on their equipment portfolio, enabling greater data transparency for better building maintenance and management.
Otis, another of the world's largest elevator companies, launched its IoT Platform Otis ONE based on Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.
Based on 30+ years of remote monitoring experience, Otis ONE connects more than 300,000 elevators and escalators worldwide and makes use of machine learning to analyze the collected data to remember emerging operational patterns, enabling their equipment and devices to make real-time adjustments.
In addition, building managers can enrol phone numbers of passengers into the Otis Compass Destination Management System, enabling users arriving at the building to choose their destination floor and have a lift allocated in advance, reducing waiting time at lift lobbies.

Continue to Page 2: Lobby Technologies - Frontline for Pandemic Defence