Test City X KONE: KONE and Ülemiste City developer Mainor Ülemiste completed an innovative trial on People Flow data with tangible benefitsTest City X KONE

,   5 minute reading

Many people know that KONE has developed sensors to optimize user experience – how many times the lift has been already waiting as you arrive? Now, more, innovative sensors were installed in Ülemiste City in Estonia, the largest business campus in the Baltics. Combined with further data collected by KONE, this new insight was proven to increase cost efficiency, improve People Flow, and save energy—among other things.

There are many ways for innovations to happen, from the depths of R&D departments to accidental discoveries by scientists researching in a different area. Sometimes, it just needs the right moment at the right time: two people meeting for a chat and, while exchanging news, identifying a shared opportunity.

That’s what happened when Mainor Ülemiste CEO Ursel Velve and KONE Baltics Regional Director Heli Koskinen sat down for lunch.

“We started talking about how both our companies are interested in experimenting with data to find new ways to utilize it and to differentiate in the real estate market,” Heli Koskinen says.

She says Mainor Ülemiste is one of KONE’s most innovative clients, always curious to experiment and find new customer value. Together, they came up with a fresh concept. Velve immediately saw its potential benefits and Koskinen resolved to present the idea to the right stakeholders at KONE.

That’s how it all started.

A business hub full of life, backed up by smart use of data

Mainor Ülemiste is the developer of Ülemiste City, the largest business campus in the Baltics, located in a growing area of Tallinn, Estonia.

The team at Mainor Ülemiste were already interested in understanding the people flow within their buildings so they could develop their operations and provide better services for their tenants.

For Mainor Ülemiste, the value proposal came from the potential of utilizing and monetizing this data in a variety of ways.

“Data is a valuable asset for campus and city developers as it helps to understand how an environment is used and how it should be designed in the future to be most welcoming and human friendly. The data could be used to design the best possible service together with our service providers, such as restaurants or cleaning service. The efficiency gained by using data-based service planning can become a potential source of income for developers.”

As for KONE, it just so happened that its Global Business Team in Espoo had been looking for the right case to build a potential proof of concept around sophisticated data gathering in a commercial building.

KONE is improving People Flow with KONE API Services, which taps into KONE’s equipment and data, giving insights on people flow related to elevators and escalators. Combining elevator and escalator data with innovative sensors in a building could bring new understanding and insights into how people move.

In short, everything clicked into place for KONE and Mainor Ülemiste.

A successful experiment and tangible results

The experiment lasted four months, during which KONE and Mainor Ülemiste utilized elevator data and sensors installed in a building in Ülemiste City to count people and analyze traffic patterns in the building. Thus, a picture was built of how the site was being used on different days and at different times. Users accessed the insights as graphs on a simple dashboard that could be viewed on either mobile or desktop devices.

Throughout the experiment, feedback was collected regularly by interviewing participants and via online feedback forms.

Once the experiments were over, the team presented results that clearly proved the concept had significant value. For example:

  • Understanding the traffic in the building could help plan building maintenance or renovation.
  • Reducing elements like lighting or heating during quiet periods would not just help save costs but also make the building more sustainable.
  • Clients of Ülemiste City could lower costs and increase sales by taking steps like optimizing resources, offerings, and opening times based on the new smart data.

A completely unexpected insight also emerged. According to Heli Koskinen, as a byproduct of the experiment, KONE analyzed data on the elevator waiting times and discovered that different elevators were being used disproportionately.

“We upgraded the group controllers of the two elevator groups, which reduced waiting times by nearly 25%, equaling 4 hours of saved working time per weekday for the users of the building as a whole.”

The energy consumption of the elevators was also calculated, showing that KONE regenerative drives recovered up to 30% of the elevator system’s total energy consumption.

“This data is great for developing green reports for tenants, as energy consumption is a major factor in them,” Heli Koskinen adds.

Next: further developments and new initiatives

The experiment was a success—KONE now has proof of concept. The collaboration inspired further ideas and engaged other companies in possible future partnerships in Ülemiste City.

Heli Koskinen praises the curious and open-minded attitude of Velve and her team:

“This trial was only possible because both of our companies have that willingness to take risks, venture into unmapped territories and, in particular, have an interest in utilizing digitalization and data to innovate new solutions for customer value.”

KONE’s Global Business Team knows more research is needed, and is now hard at work developing the findings and assessing their commercial viability. Further commercial property partners will be required to test and refine the process moving forward.

Meanwhile At Ülemiste City, successful technology and service testing such as the one with KONE have encouraged further development of the ‘Test City’ service. A newly designed service process, experienced mentors and 16,000 testers from the community will be helping to bring this new innovation to the market.

“We hope that with our Test City, to be launched in May, we can help companies to design new technology services based on customer needs. As our experience shows, it could create unexpected and innovative cooperation between start-ups and corporations or even with municipalities,” Ursel Velve says.

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