Courtesy of Commend Americas
More sophisticated and effective communication solutions are needed to manage the increasing number of elevators in commercial buildings.

Rising to the Occasion: What to Know About Elevator Communications

Aug. 4, 2023
Elevators are essential in most modern buildings, but they need communication systems that meet code requirements. Here’s how new features are making compliance easier—and delivering a new revenue stream.

The continued increase in the number of elevators in commercial buildings has necessitated the development of more sophisticated and effective communication solutions to manage these vertical transportation systems. Unfortunately, the available communication solutions are lacking in many aspects, including functionality, convenience and compliance with ASME 17.1 2019 code standards.

What Code Requires

Elevators are essential in most modern buildings, providing a convenient and efficient means of vertical transportation. However, to ensure the safety of passengers, building staff, and emergency responders, it is necessary to have communication systems that meet the requirements of ASME A17.1 2019. The code sets the standard for safe and efficient elevator and escalator operation, and compliance with these requirements is essential for ensuring the safety of all those who use elevators.

Several elevator communication systems meet the requirements of ASME A17.1 code, providing a reliable and effective solution for building managers. These systems include advanced features such as emergency intercoms, hands-free operation and visual displays that improve passenger safety and convenience.

One such system is the elevator phone system. These systems are equipped with emergency intercoms that allow passengers to communicate with a trained operator in an emergency. They also include call buttons, hands-free operation and visual displays that give passengers clear and easy-to-follow instructions in a crisis. With these systems, passengers can communicate with building staff or emergency responders quickly and easily, improving the safety of everyone in the elevator.

However, hearing-impaired passengers can need help understanding audible announcements or emergency intercoms. To address this issue, it is necessary to have visual communication systems that meet the requirements of ASME A17.1.

How to Comply with Code

An LCD elevator display is one solution that meets ASME 17.1 code requirements. These displays can be used for emergency notifications, building announcements and general information, all while providing a visual display of the information that would otherwise be communicated audibly. These displays are designed to be easy to read and provide clear and concise information to passengers, improving understanding and ensuring everyone knows what is happening.

Additionally, these displays can be adapted to meet the needs of passengers with hearing impairments. The displays can include text-to-speech technology, closed captioning and sign language interpretation, all of which can help ensure that everyone can understand the information being communicated. By integrating these features into the LCD, passengers with hearing impairments can receive the same information as other passengers, improving their safety and convenience.

Furthermore, these visual communication systems can be used for digital signage to display advertising, news or other information that may interest passengers. This creates an additional revenue stream for building owners and adds convenience and entertainment for passengers.

It is important to note that these visual communication systems must meet the requirements of ASME A17.1 code. This includes features such as emergency notifications, fault messages and other critical information that must be displayed in an emergency. By complying with these requirements, building managers can ensure that their elevators are safe and that passengers have the necessary information to stay safe in a crisis.

Visual communication systems are essential for elevators, particularly for passengers with hearing impairments. These offerings are becoming an increasingly popular solution for the future of vertical transportation. As technology advances, building owners and elevator manufacturers are looking for ways to improve elevator communication, making it more accessible, convenient and informative for passengers. That results in safer environments overall.

How Communication Systems Are Evolving

As we move forward, other innovative elevator communication technologies are emerging, helping to enhance the passenger experience and improve safety. One such development is the incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI). AI can help streamline the process of communication by providing real-time diagnostics and predictive maintenance alerts. It can even respond to emergency situations autonomously, improving response times and ensuring more effective coordination with emergency responders.

The integration of mobile apps is another notable advancement. By downloading an app on their smartphones, passengers can receive notifications about the elevator status, make service requests and report issues directly to building management. For those with hearing impairments, the app can provide visual prompts and instructions, helping to bridge the communication gap.

With the Internet of Things (IoT) taking the forefront in technological advancements, the elevator industry is not far behind. IoT-enabled communication systems in elevators can collect data on elevator usage, maintenance and efficiency. This data can then be analyzed to improve elevator performance, predict potential problems and even customize the elevator experience for individual passengers.

While these technological advancements improve the elevator experience, there are still regulatory requirements to keep in mind. Any new development needs to meet the compliance standards of the ASME A17.1 2019 code. Technology is only as useful as it is safe, and safety should always be the highest priority when designing and implementing new features in elevator communication systems.

The future of elevator communication solutions is promising. Building on the ASME A17.1 code compliance, technologies such as AI, mobile apps, visual communications and IoT are stepping up to make elevators not just a mode of vertical transportation, but a platform for improved safety, accessibility and passenger experience.

These innovations indicate a profound transformation in vertical transportation that can significantly benefit all users, particularly those with hearing impairments. As such, embracing these advances is key to enhancing elevator safety and efficiency in the 21st century.

About the Author

Anthony Babicz

Anthony Babicz is director of sales, Commend Americas, where he leads the company's sales and go-to-market initiatives for unified communications and security functions. He came to Commend from IdentiSys, where he led District Sales for access control, video surveillance, and identification technology.

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