Kone Hai

Secure and accessible people flow for residential societies : Changing the traditional elevator system and making them as smart as they can get!

Prototyping
UX Design
Prototyping
UX Design

Motivation


Elevators are increasingly becoming a part and parcel of any new building plan. It is not just a necessity in high-rise buildings, but is indispensable in regular buildings as well, now more than ever. Nobody wants to be living in an apartment inaccessible by a lift even if they themselves don’t mind climbing up and down stairs on a daily basis. Lifts not only help in lugging heavy shopping, but are a boon for those facing physical challenges and ailments. Innovation in elevator technology, hence, is a perpetually ongoing process.

Design


After reading the problem statement, we started brainstorming on various ways we can make the elevators smart. To create an effective product, our first stop was to categorize the kind of people entering a building. Figure 1 shows the mindmap for the same. Our categorization was based on the following two factors :

1. Duration of the stay
2. Accessibility in the building
3. Origin of the visitor

Figure 1: Mindmap of different categories of users

Figure 2: Mindmap of pros and cons of different input type

According to the above categorization, we clubbed together delivery people and one time visitors, treating them in a similar manner. Our next step was to understand the pros and cons of using different technologies in order to automate the entry and exit from the elevators as well as make use of destination control system. Figure 2 shows the mindmap for evaluating the pros and cons of using three different technologies:

1. Swiping a card
2. Fingerprint access
3. Face Recognition Access

Table 1 : Input Method : Pros/Cons
Input Method
Pros
Cons
Card Swipe
Easy to install
Manual Intervention
User familiarity
Need to carry an extra thing
Theft/forget
Replacing and deactivating cost
Biometric - Fingerprint
More intuitive than card
Manual Intervention
No extra baggage
Hands might not be free
Most reliable, advanced tech
Face Recognition
No manual intervention needed
Lighting issues
Camera placement is dicey
Expensive
Unreliable tech


After deciding to go with fingerprint input, we consulted with a few users to understand what issues they were facing while using the lift in my building. Talking to them was immensely helpful as they came up with scenarios which we had previously missed, hence helping us in creating a better real life experience by keeping in mind the real problems. While talking to people we realized that parents were not willing to let their kids travel in the lift alone which led to discovery of real life use case scenario. We then charted out these scenarios and identified user screens required to address them (Figure 3 shows the process).

Figure 3: Scenario - user screen mapping

We had a discussion whether to put a panel inside or outside the lift. Clearly stating out the scenarios and requirements helped us understand that no panel was needed inside if we were to make use of the destination controlled system.

Next we created wireframes to view and modify our initial thought process. Wireframes were created in two phases. As can be seen from Figure 4, first phase helped us focus more on the ways to handle different scenarios. This helped us think through with the design, various functionalities required and achieving the desired functions. Though this was not foolproof and we still discovered unattended scenarios in phase 2. Figure 5 shows the second phase of wireframing. Two missed scenarios addressed in phase 2 are :
1. Order Lift Screen : There was no provision to specify the entry and exit floor in phase 1
2. View Visitors : There was no provision to view the active tokens and visitors and pending requests which need to be handled by the user in phase 1



Figure 4
Figure 5


Identification of Issues & their solutions

After conducting extensive interviews with the residents of a few societies around the Kharadi area in Pune, we listed the pain points people face on a day-to-day basis in accessing their homes and came up with features that would improve the people flow in a residential society.

The issues and their solutions provided by our system are listed below:

    1) Issue: Too much wait-time for a lift. An average rider takes about 4 elevator trips a day, about 250 days a year. Considering an average wait time of 120 seconds per ride, a resident spends close to 33 hours a year waiting for a lift just at home!
       Solution: A mobile app to order lift. This will help a user call a lift even before reaching the lobby area of the floor, thus reducing or eliminating wait time for an elevator. The “order lift” functionality has the following features to it:
      a) Order lift now: This option calls the lift to the user’s desired pick-up floor immediately, and displays an estimated time of arrival as well.
      b) Start GPS Tracking: A resident need not always order a lift from the app manually; they can start GPS tracking from wherever they are, and as soon as they enter their society, a lift will be ordered in their building, waiting to pick the resident up from the ground floor. Also, if a user takes a considerable detour from their designated route (learnt by the app over time), say, from their workplace to home, their co-residents will be informed through notification, displaying a map of the route being taken by the traveller. This will increase the security of the user.
      c) Schedule weekly usage: Considering that the general working population has a fixed routine during the week, our app gives an option to fill out a form with daily (Monday to Sunday) out-time and in-time. This pattern is also learnt by the elevator system, which notifies the user if they want to save the data as their usage pattern.

    2) Issue: Anybody is allowed access to someone’s door, once inside the main gate of the society. This leads to the following problems:
      a) Deliveries to the wrong house: Many-a-times, the delivery person reads the wrong building number or house number, which leads to wastage of time of the person answering the door of the wrong house, and the delivery persons themselves. Also, if the delivery is already paid for, it stands the risk of not being redirected to the right house, which a loss for the person who actually ordered.
      b) Security from unknown residents of a society: With the advent of larger and larger residential societies with as many as 400 to 1000 flats per society, it is not enough to check whether a person entering a building is a resident of the society. Some people, for example, children, senior citizens, female occupants living alone, opt for a more secured access to their home.
       Solution: The installation of a fingerprint authentication system will allow a resident to only access their own floor by default. Any visitor (from within the society or from outside), delivery person, or an in-house guest shall need access permission from the resident they want to visit. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of the access process:
      a) Enrollment: A centrally controlled system shall record all existing residents’ fingerprints (whichever finger they always want to use to call the lift) and store the information in a coded form on a secure database. Typically it takes less than a half second to store a person's prints and the system works for over 99 percent of typical users (the failure rate is higher for manual workers than for office workers).
      b) Verification: Once enrollment is complete, the system is to be used for verification. Anyone who wants to gain access to an elevator has to put their finger on a scanner. The scanner takes their fingerprint, checks it against all the prints in the database stored during enrollment, and decides whether the person is entitled to gain access or not. Once the user is authenticated, they are shown the floors they have access to. They select the floor number they wish to go to. The people flow system uses destination control to call the appropriate lift to the required floor.
      c) Guest access: Since we have people whose data won’t be fed into the system, for example, guests or delivery persons, once the user is denied access, they are allowed to enter a passcode. This passcode has already been shared by a resident with the outsider with the help of the mobile app.

    3) Issue: If children below a certain age are allowed inside the lift alone, they might fiddle around with security systems raising false alarms or panic in a power outage situation.
       Solution: When a house-owner/tenant in the society installed with our people flow system registers their family members in the central system, they can configure whether or not they want to allow a child member of the family to use the elevator unsupervised by an adult. This can also be done through the mobile app at a later time.

    4) Issue: When any people flow system is out of order or under maintenance, the residents do not have any intimation about the situation unless they go to a notice board or ask the security. Most of the times, the security is unaware as to who is undertaking the maintenance or by when will the issue be resolved.
       Solution: The mobile application can be used to send a notification to all the registered users about the unavailability of the people flow system when maintenance is being carried out. If, say, only one elevator is affected out of the multiple ones used in the society, then only the residents of that particular building shall be receiving the notification. Alongwith, an estimated time for the fix shall be given. Similarly, when the systems are back into action, another notification to the previously notified users shall be sent.

Screen Mockups

Following are the screen mockups made using Sketch