IoT: The building blocks for smart cities and smarter business
IoT: The building blocks for smart cities and smarter business

IoT: The building blocks for smart cities and smarter business

Andreas Schierenbeck, CEO at global elevator and technologies company thyssenkrupp Elevator, discusses how the IoT is creating new opportunities for businesses across a variety of sectors – and the very important role it plays in making our cities more efficient.

In the 21st century, city life is booming. More than half the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, and this is predicted to rise to around 70 percent by the end of the century. Whilst this urban activity is positive for economic growth, the rapid influx of people to cities is putting unprecedented pressure on our built environment, especially on the construction and running of our buildings.

Floor space restrictions are one of these pressures and are making our cities increasingly taller. The world’s current tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, stands at a mighty 2,717 ft. – almost 63 percent taller than Taiwan’s Taipei 101 tower, which at 1,670ft was the world’s tallest building just ten years ago. There is an urgent need for reliable and efficient building services to keep people moving around these buildings efficiently – and the cities in which they are located running at optimum efficiency.

In our ever digital world, it is important for architects, developers and city planners to recognise the important role that the IoT can play in meeting these challenges. Every day, more and more sophisticated technologies and platforms are being developed. The Internet has made our world smaller and allowed us to connect our lives, businesses and cultures in ways that generations before us were simply unable to. The IoT is also a versatile platform and companies are only now starting to realise its potential.

As an elevator business, thyssenkrupp Elevator is committed to creating building services that will keep our buildings running efficiently both now and long into the future. Elevator “downtime” is a particular challenge for us, and the wider sector, but working with Microsoft, thyssenkrupp Elevator has applied a data-driven learning method to our elevator operations, creating a new “Internet of Elevators” technology – MAX – which will make getting stuck in an elevator a thing of the past.

By monitoring individual elevators and components that are connected to the cloud, MAX uses a sophisticated algorithm to identify in real-time the need for replacements in components and systems before the end of their life cycles. More than saving time and stress, this development also has the power to transform the relationship our service engineers have with our customers – positioning them as proactive and forward thinking operators that stop problems before they start.

The value of this IoT innovation is huge. In minimising the disruption to people’s daily routines that inefficient elevators cause, MAX technology allows a vast increase in people’s productivity – and this has a major economic impact. It has been estimated that just 49 minutes of wasted office time costs the UK economy around £26 billion each year.

Whilst using our experience as an example, data collected from the Internet of Things, machine learning and predictive analytics can be turned into valuable intelligence across all sectors, transforming the very core of our world’s businesses and business offers. The aviation industry, for example, has already established machine learning into its everyday practices, increasing safety and reliability. In the building industry, IoT data is being used to better regulate air conditioning to prevent temperatures from becoming too hot or cold.  This particular application of the IoT also helps to deliver a more environmentally friendly built landscape; a key development considering buildings are responsible for 40 percent of the world’s energy consumption.

Looking to the future, the drive to make services more reliable and more efficient will dominate all future business strategies and become inherent in every industry. Machine learning, facilitated by the IoT, is central to this plan.