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With Strong Infection Prevention Measures, Hitachi Elevator Adds Resilience to Urban Safety
With Strong Infection Prevention Measures, Hitachi Elevator Adds Resilience to Urban Safety
The year 2020, impacted by COVID-19, was a test of the resilience of the global village. Every city in every country has moved swiftly to address this unprecedented challenge. Questions like, “Is the city I’m living in safe now?” are being asked and amplified by more and more people. Because of the pandemic, people’s awareness of safety has become more acute. The bigger a city, the bigger the safety challenges that it faces are. Building cities that can absorb risk has become a hot issue for the most recent urban development efforts.
In 2018, the Chinese central government published Opinions on Promoting Safe Urban Development, which stated that cities should have the ability to prevent and control risk. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated efforts to bolster urban safety and made clear that the sustainable development of cities requires increased urban resilience.
How can we become comfortable when travelling again?
The prevention of infection in public spaces is high on the agenda
The 2020 Chinese New Year holiday was extended by necessity, but this did not appear to make anyone happy as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted peoples’ work and the lives that they had been accustomed to and taken for granted. The highly infectious virus capable of spreading in many ways has increased everyone’s anxiety, as even the simple act of going out could be dangerous.
Ms. Peng is an ordinary resident that we interviewed. She has had a very typical experience. In February, she and her family were scared by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thinking that elevator buttons might be a mode of contact transmission, the family almost never went out. When they had to go shopping, they would use all kinds of homemade protective tools: tissues, toothpicks, or even car keys. If they could avoid touching the elevator buttons directly, they could feel a little safer. They were not alone — many home-developed techniques for avoiding infection quickly spread in communities and online. Everyone’s priority when going out was safety.
How people could prevent infection in public spaces quickly became an urgent issue. As a co-creator in the sphere of urban development, Hitachi participates in urban development projects at various levels, including projects for public and commercial facilities and other civilian infrastructure. As an important part of infection prevention and control, Hitachi felt keenly responsible for quickly responding to this issue. Relying on the One Hitachi advantage including the R&D resource which is difficult for the rest of the industry to replicate, and the pool of patents that have been accumulated over the years, Hitachi promptly responded in the early days of the pandemic, integrating its own patented technologies used for the infection prevention and control of epidemic prevention into products that could bring to market.
With a 7-day emergency response, Hitachi provides elevator solutions for the prevention and control of infection.
The ability to provide people with a guarantee that they will be able to move about society safely is an issue that Hitachi is constantly researching and investing in. The COVID-19 pandemic caught everyone off guard. At that critical moment, Hitachi’s R&D team quickly created the two-pronged prevention and disinfection/sterilization approach as a solution to the aerosol transmission of the virus, striving to eliminate the widespread concerns that society had about moving safely as quickly as possible.
Focusing on the elevator buttons that required people to touch them, the Hitachi R&D team successfully transformed a number of patented technologies into touchless elevator products that they worked day and night to bring to market in just 7 days, solving the physiological issues involved in contacting surfaces and reliving the psychological stress people were experiencing when moving around public spaces.
Hitachi’s touchless elevator solutions for the Chinese market can primarily be classified in 3 categories:
1.Biometric identification – voice and facial recognition for the operation of elevators;
2.Mobile devices – WeChat applets, mobile QR codes, IC cards, Bluetooth, NFC;
3.Sensor technology –TOF sensor button, Gesture Recognition Elevator System.
Currently, the most widely used solutions are voice recognition elevator system, gesture elevator calling in elevator halls and QR code or IC card elevator operation inside the car.
Hitachi uses offline voice recognition technology that supports Chinese(Mandarin, Cantonese), English and Japanese in its elevator voice operation solution. Using voice commands such as, “I want to go up” (or down) or “stop at the 6th floor,” passengers can contactlessly and conveniently call an elevator and choose a floor while they are waiting in the elevator hall and standing in the car.
The gesture calling solution used in elevator halls uses mature infrared gesture recognition technology. Digital sensors and Hitachi’s gesture detection algorithm enable people to call an elevator by gesturing 10 cm from the sensors. By simply using gestures like swiping up or down, passengers are able to contactlessly and conveniently call an elevator from the elevator hall.
The most popular solution is the use of QR codes and IC cards to operate elevators. Passengers can easily choose a floor in the car using an IC card or QR codes generated by the WeChat applets. QR codes are able to help passengers contactlessly select a floor in a contactless way and establish permissions for the effective management of passengers to improve building safety.
In addition to measures that prevent contact, effectively sterilization and disinfection will be a more active to eliminate passengers’ concerns about riding elevators. Fortunately, Hitachi possesses technologies in the fields of medicine and fire-fighting that enabled a series of disinfection and sterilization measures to be quickly brought to market. For example, to prevent cross-infection during elevator rides, Hitachi offers an antibacterial button solution. Highly effective antibacterial silver ions on buttons can firmly attach to the surfaces of bacteria and react with them, which means that bacteria cannot survive on the surface of the button. Another example is Hitachi’s air purification systems that can ensure the purity of the air in the elevator car to effectively limit aerosol transmission. Using a nano water ion sterilization generator, the moisture in the air can be collected, and these water molecules in the air can be separated using high pressure to generate a large number of charged water particles. When encountering bacteria, the hydroxyl radicals in the nano water ions will extract the hydrogen from the bacteria and convert it to pure water to denature and inactivate the proteins in the bacteria and achieving a bacteriostatic effect. Further, according to a report published by National Health Commission of the PRC, the coronavirus is sensitive to UV radiation and heat, which makes UV sterilization a very good option for disinfecting and sterilizing elevators to protect people from bacteria. Built on the technical UV sterilization solution used by the Hitachi Group in professional medical systems, Hitachi quickly adjusted product configurations to protect elevator and escalator product users in many different scenarios. For example, elevator cars can be equipped with UV sterilization lamps with a wavelength of 254 nm, which will be turned on when the system’s automatic detection features confirm that the elevator is vacant and no passengers are present, to fully sterilize and disinfect the elevator car. Escalators are equipped with UV irradiation devices with a wavelength between 270 and 285 nm, which are able to sterilize and disinfect handrails and stairs in real time to reduce the risk of bacterial and viral cross infections in crowded areas.
Safe elevator and escalator solutions from Hitachi have helped more people return to working and living normally
When safety became the top priority for everyone riding an elevator and escalator, the safe solutions provided by Hitachi saw immediate success in the market. In March of this year, every elevator in Ms. Peng’s community was equipped with a voice elevator module. In May, sterilization and disinfection devices were added to the escalators in Guangzhou Metro Line 2’s Guangzhou South Railway Station and plans have been made to install similar devices in the stations of multiple metro lines in Guangzhou. In the meantime, Hitachi’s practical and feasible safe elevator solutions have also attracted significant attention from society. There was a special TV report about these solutions, and the report was republished on the People’s Daily mobile app where it was viewed by more than 380,000 people in just two days.
Statistics show that Hitachi’s touchless elevator and sterilization and disinfection solutions have been widely used in public, commercial and residential projects in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Shenyang, especially popular in commercial and high-end residential projects.
Hitachi’s long-held mission is to enable people to call and ride elevators safely and to pay attention to every part of people’s work and daily lives to guarantee safety in an urban society. Hitachi has never restricted itself to the word of this mission. Rather, it has used this mission to create and transform innovative products and the practical and feasible plans of Hitachi to help society improve its ability to address risk and actively reduce the occurrence of adverse events in cities, to ensure that cities are able to operate normally and that Hitachi is able to improve the value it provides to society.
Hitachi Group’s One Hitachi comprehensive technology integration capability will be providing safeguards for improving people’s quality of life and enhancing the resilience of the city
The pandemic has provided us with an opportunity to change the long-standing methods for operating elevators and pushed society into a new accelerated stage of the intelligent elevator. Hitachi never rests on the laurels of its technological achievements. Before this November, Hitachi cooperated with VIVO to develop more convenient intelligent elevator calling features like voice elevator calling using a locked mobile phone, one-button elevator calling and non-inductive elevator calling, to name just a few, and added the recognition of users’ posture and gait into the existing AI face recognition application to better recognize mask-wearing people to respond to the need to prevent and control infection prevention.
Touchless elevators are just a small step towards the intelligent elevator. As a technology pioneer in the elevator industry, the Hitachi Group hopes to follow the One Hitachi spirit and flexibly utilize the solutions of Hitachi Building Technology (Guangzhou)'s, Information & Telecommunication Systems, fully leverage the Group’s integrated technology advantage, and create a more humanized intelligent mobility space closer to smart living using the Hitachi Group’s advanced patents and ability to quickly respond. Through this., Tthe Hitachi Group will coordinate all levels of society to improve the environmental, economic and social value it provides and provide a practical guarantee that people’s QOL (Quality of Life) will be improved and cities’ resilience will be enhanced.