Business & Technology Review

Smart solutions for new urban normal Filed on August 31, 2021

As we ease out of lockdown and re-enter public buildings, people need to feel comfortable in urban spaces. From self-disinfecting handrails to smart people flow planning, innovative solutions by KONE that support well-being will help people transition to the new normal

Over a year ago, hardly any of us gave a second thought to entering an elevator or stepping into the bustling lobby of a large building. Today, as we slowly return to workplaces and other public or semi-public premises, we must come to terms with a ‘new normal’. Places where we once casually gathered are now imbued with a sense of uncertainty.

We need to find ways to regain our confidence in the spaces we used to love. This requires rethinking of how we interact with our everyday environments, in cities, and with the buildings we move through.

It is now clear that Covid-19 has far-reaching impacts on all aspects of life in cities as we know it. KONE’s elevator and escalator service technicians have been working throughout the pandemic to keep societies running. The KONE 24/7 Connected Services solution has provided real-time equipment diagnostics to prevent downtime, especially in critical settings like hospitals. At the same time, experts from across

KONE have been working to find new ways to support customers in preparing for a new normal — matching up innovations with existing technologies and services to make built environments healthier.

Two key questions have been at the forefront as the KONE health and well-being suite of solutions has been put together — how can KONE help lower the risk of diseases spreading through contact with surfaces in shared spaces, and how can KONE’s people flow expertise be used to encourage physical distancing and enable a safe and convenient return to public settings?

A chief concern among building owners now is ensuring people can move easily, freely and confidently through buildings. How could buildings be used and possibly altered to enable physical distancing and reduce crowding in common spaces like lobbies and elevators?

Smart solutions for new urban normal (

KONE People Flow Planning and Consulting is a custom service that can support the safe return of people to buildings like offices. Using KONE’s expert knowledge, data, and simulation tools, the service provides an understanding, for example, of how physical distancing measures impact people flow in a specific building, and what measures could help reduce crowding and bottlenecks. Using artificial intelligence, human behaviour models and mathematical modelling, KONE’s People Flow Simulator enables the visual simulation of different scenarios for and journeys within buildings, from the parking garage to the desk.

There are more than a billion daily KONE elevator and escalator users worldwide, and KONE’s insight and expertise in people flow and how to impact the people flow experience in different types of buildings is second to none. This expertise is particularly valuable to customers when they or their buildings face big changes. People flow has become KONE’s core competence.

As people across the globe started returning to work, a real concern related to shared spaces became extremely clear — people were unwilling to touch common surfaces like buttons or handrails. The KONE Elevator Call is a response to this. It allows users to summon an elevator with their mobile device, removing the need to touch potentially contaminated buttons or displays.

The solution can be added to existing elevators and is especially well-suited to KONE DX Class elevators. The latter feature built-in connectivity and act as a platform that enables new services and solutions to be added flexibly as customer needs arise. And this is exactly what KONE has now done — developed and built on existing solutions to address arising customer pain points.

KONE Elevator Call allows you to avoid crowded elevator lobbies and catch your elevator without touching any shared surfaces. This is something KONE has already offered for residential elevators, and KONE now developed and expanded that service to make it compatible with elevators in other existing buildings.

To further reduce concerns over elevator use, KONE has introduced the new KONE Elevator AirPurifier to selected markets. It uses technology, including an advanced photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) process developed by NASA for air control on spaceships, to improve air quality in the elevator car by destroying most potential pollutants, like bacteria, viruses, dust and odours.

In addition, KONE DX Class elevators can be furnished with anti-microbial handrails and wall finishes, specialised coatings that reduce up to 99 per cent of bacteria. This is the first line of defence against the spread of disease from contaminated surfaces.

During the early weeks of the pandemic, building owners observed that escalator users were using handrails less and less. If you don’t think the handrail is clean, you don’t want to hold it. But not holding the escalator handrail is not a great option as it increases the risk of injury from loss of balance. A solution was needed to tackle both these issues.

The result is KONE Handrail Sanitizer, an escalator handrail cleaning solution that helps protect users with automatic and continuous triple cleaning technology significantly reducing bacteria and viruses from the handrail.

As we all learn to live by the new norms of our cities, neighbourhoods and buildings, people will likely continue to insist on smooth people flow once we do get going again. The transparency and preventive maintenance offered by the cloud-based KONE 24/7 Connected Services can help here.

KONE’s suite of health and well-being solutions — which also include touch-free elevator calls, and real-time information sharing through the KONE Information solution — can be mixed and matched according to customers’ needs. New solutions for healthy and safe people flow environments will continue to be developed. Worry less with KONE Health and Well-being solutions and make your building environment safer and healthier.

For more information on people flow solutions for all types of buildings, visit

Nisthula Nagarajan

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