The engineering and design of taller buildings is significantly impacting “vertical transportation” technology and the environment and vice versa. An efficient elevator is a key consideration in the development and construction of tall buildings. Any way you look at it, the advancement of vertical transportation goes hand-in-hand with urban development.

It should come as no surprise that buildings consume about 40 per cent of the world’s energy, and elevators account for 2—10 per cent of a building’s energy consumption — a figure that increases during peak hours. One way overcome this obstacle is through the development of energy-efficient or “green” elevators that not only save energy in the long run but also produce clean energy, especially when it comes to skyscrapers.

Luckily, the development of advanced technology in motors, regeneration converters, control software, and cabin lighting can significantly lower the rate of energy consumption.

One such example is the work that the Research Group in the Energetics of Ionised Media has been carrying out for several years on the development of fuel cells, a system for producing clean energy. Since 2012, the Group has coordinated the Sapac project, which enables a system to be powered continuously.

The available energy, whether from the electrical grid or from renewable energy sources, is stored in the form of hydrogen to be restored via the fuel cell when the source of energy is no longer sufficient. Ultimately, the system is clean — it uses no hazardous substances such as lead or cadmium.

Regenerative projects are being developed with LED lighting and controls that can reuse the electricity generated with elevators inside a building so that it is transferred back to the main grid of that building. Passenger traffic flow management systems in these tall buildings are also essential to limit waiting times and optimise the number of elevators in the building for best traffic flow.

Based on emerging passenger, customer and industry needs, the potential is unlimited, such as pilot voice and voice assistant technology to improve the way elevators interact with disabled passengers and become an entertainment or information source for passengers during their ride. Elevators may ultimately become a video meeting room or some where you text or email exchange with colleagues, order lunch and view out-of-home digital advertising systems.

With an increasing digitally-connected mobile population, Smart Dubai 2021 defines a road map to position Dubai as a hub for digital transformation and sets a clear goal of creating a smart liveable city. As our city and buildings increase in complexity and scale, vertical transportation is part of this development and set to continue reinventing the way people move.

The vertical transportation industry, though, is just like any business and at its heart lies its customers, whose satisfaction is paramount to success. In the case of the vertical transportation industry, this is no different and the passenger or occupant must be taken into consideration.

The “occupant experience” should strive to accommodate the different requests, needs and demands of every type of consumer. The development of AI technology has been adopted by leading vertical transportation companies not only to improve the capacity of conventional elevator systems but also the way in which vertical transportation interacts with and serves passengers. The sky is the limit when it comes to the leaps and bounds that the vertical transportation industry will make in the future.

Patrick Blethon is President, Otis Europe Middle East & Africa, while Maged Nagib is Vice-President and Managing Director, Otis M.E.