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Most multilevel properties equipped with elevators continue to operate traditional systems in which passengers are expected to wait for an available elevator and manually request a destination. With modern smart building technology, this process can be optimized to save time and improve overall efficiency. 

By upgrading existing elevator access control systems to make use of smart elevator controls, property owners can provide tenants and staff with a safer, more convenient and secure way to access floors in multilevel buildings. 

This guide will help property owners understand how to choose the right touchless access system for modern installations, as well as cover a range of key benefits that building operators can expect when upgrading from traditional systems to smart elevators. 

Different types of smart elevator technology 

Mobile credential based smart elevators 

Smart elevator technology is used to replace traditional physical elevator controls, such as push buttons, with an advanced system that can be accessed remotely via a wireless connection and a smartphone or mobile device. Staff, residents and guests will be issued unique mobile credentials stored in a dedicated app. The app will interact with installed control panel readers to find and operate the nearest elevator, giving users a completely touch-free experience.

Most smart elevator systems will allow residents to request an elevator by holding their device up to a reader installed in the lobby. Users will then select a floor using their smart device and the system will direct them to the nearest available elevator cabin. Additionally, security teams can adjust individual user permissions and control access to specific floors, ensuring that private areas remain fully secured. 

Touchless elevators

As an alternative to smartphone-based smart elevator technology, some installations will be equipped with touchless elevator buttons. These systems replace the mechanical elevator call button inside each cabin with specially designed motion sensors that respond to hand gestures. 

Authorized users can interact with the elevator controls by simply positioning their finger in front of the sensor. If the input is received, the floor will be selected and the cabin will be granted access to move. Touchless buttons for elevators or contactless elevator buttons can also be used manually, as well as integrated with additional smartphone controls.

Key benefits of smart, touchless elevator systems 

Improved hygiene

By installing touchless elevator controls and having elevators with touchless elevator buttons, property owners and building managers can help to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and communicable diseases. Research has shown that the average elevator button harbors 737 times more bacteria than a household toilet seat, illustrating how important it is to reduce the need to come into contact with high-touch surfaces to improve hygiene. 

By combining smart elevator systems and touchless elevator buttons with wider contactless access solutions, such as entry readers and building management tools, property owners can dramatically lessen the need to touch buttons or door handles in order to move throughout the building, further preventing illness transmissions through contact. 

Enhanced efficiency

When operating a traditional elevator, users have little control over which cabin to choose and the number of stops it will take before they can arrive at their destination. This often leads to congestion and inefficiency, as large numbers of people attempt to use overfilled cabins. With smart elevator technology, guests can find the nearest elevator and pre-select their destination using in-app controls, as well as view the selections of other users. This type of smart elevator technology, also known as destination dispatch, automatically groups users based on their selected floors to ensure faster secure service. 

When paired with occupancy counting sensors, these systems can also reduce congestion by showing users occupancy numbers for each cabin and the selected floors other users have requested, helping to improve energy efficiency by grouping people visiting the same floors together. Additionally, allowing users to view real-time usage and occupancy data can improve accessibility for disabled guests, assisting people in choosing less crowded cabins when more space is required. 

Greater convenience

Smart elevators are far more convenient to use than traditional elevators, as these systems can cut down waiting and travel time for users by grouping tenants going to the same floors, as well as allowing operators to manage elevator usage remotely. 

Property managers can also install a wide range of complementary hardware and software solutions to improve the overall user experience and convenience. For example: 

  • Separate access reader turnstile gates can be installed for each elevator to reduce congestion. 
  • Individual elevator cabins can be programmed to stop only at a few pre-selected floors. 
  • LCD screens can be installed to clearly display which floors the elevators will stop at. 
  • User credentials can be adjusted to only allow access to pre-approved authorized floors and areas. 

Strengthened security

Many multilevel commercial and residential properties will accommodate large numbers of visitors or people from different organizations. By choosing to operate a smart elevator system, security staff can manage the unique access permissions for each user or group, and block entry to other floors.

For example, the access credentials issued to the employees of one company will only permit authorized access to the floors their employer inhabits, while staff from other companies will be denied access to those floors. Some systems also allow operators to customize access to only permit entry to certain areas based on set criteria, such as company roles or office working hours. 

Seamless integrations

Smart elevator technology can be integrated with existing access security systems for improved security and convenience. Entry readers installed to manage main property access can be connected to touchless elevator controls, with security teams able to adjust, view and revoke user credentials remotely from a single centralized building management platform. 

Developing such a system will allow users to travel throughout the property and manage their own access directly from their smartphones, removing the expense associated with physical credentials like key cards and fobs. Considering that over 85% of the population own a smart device, adopting integrated smart access systems can reduce operating costs and improve convenience for users. 

Other IoT integrations to consider for smart elevator deployments include connecting with the property’s video security systems, visitor management solutions and building management platforms to improve overall visibility and efficiency.

Smart elevator installation considerations

When choosing an appropriate smart elevator access control system network for any given installation, property owners must assess a range of unique needs and requirements, and consider these questions: 

  • How many elevators do you have? Installing new contactless elevator buttons in multiple cabins can be expensive and disruptive to business operations. A smartphone system may be more appropriate for a building with multiple elevators. 
  • How many people need access? Issuing and managing credentials for hundreds of users can be time-consuming. An integrated identity management system will improve this process. 
  • Will access to certain floors need to be controlled? If access to certain areas must be granted or denied based on the user’s role, how will this be managed, viewed and adjusted? Choose a flexible cloud-based system to streamline the process of managing schedules, setting permissions and viewing activities in real-time. A cloud system also allows operators to manage security from anywhere through a browser. 
  • Will wider integrations be necessary? If the property already has smart security features like access readers and cameras, will newly proposed devices be compatible for integration? Opt for a system with open architecture to ensure that all systems can be effortlessly integrated with other hardware, software and apps. 

Are touchless elevator controls right for your building?

Smart elevator technology and elevators with touchless buttons can be used to improve convenience, efficiency, security and hygiene for existing multilevel commercial and residential apartment access control systems. When upgrading to smart elevators, accessibility should be considered and wider integrations should be planned to ensure improved efficiency and provide tenants with a better user experience.

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