On the Development of a Smart Elevator Evacuation System

Project: Research

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In the past decades, many super high-rise buildings have been built in the Asia-pacific region. There at least 5 over 500m tall buildings are under construction in China namely, Suzhou Zhongnan Center (729m), Shenzhen Pingan IFC (660m), Wuhan Greenland Center (636m), Shanghai Tower (632m) and Tianjin Goldin Finance Center (597m) and it is likely that 1km tall buildings will be constructed in the near future. One of the prime concerns on the design of these buildings will be the safety issue. Means of protection again various hazards, such as fire, earthquake and wind effect have been extensively studied. As zero risk situation may not be achieved and absolute assurance of safe building conditions is impossible, mitigation strategies should be considered at design stage. To mitigate the ill-effect on people, evacuating them from the hazardous environment is one of the mitigation strategies. However, requiring occupants to escape from a super tall building by their own effort within a short period of time is difficult. Using mechanical means, such as elevators, to assist people to escape in supertall buildings is therefore considered by researchers, building designers as well as the governments. However, it is conventionally not to allow using elevators for evacuation because of evacuees’ safety in the elevators, capacity of elevators to transport people, firemen’s usage of elevators for firefighting operation. Some firefighting operators may believe that occupants, if they have not been directly affected by fire, should remain in the premises and await for the firemen to extinguish the fire. After the 9/11 event, engineers and researchers have re-considered the use of elevators to assist total evacuation as people have noticed the collapse of buildings. The International Building Codes of the US has subsequently included this consideration, yet the effectiveness of using elevators for escape has not been fully explored. On the basis of the emerging ICT, smart elevator evacuation system can be established under the smart building regime. The purpose of this project is to identify the issues of using elevators for evacuation in super tall buildings, to establish an elevator evacuation algorithm which integrates with smart control system on the basis of smart sensors, to review the building legislations for elevator evacuation and to arrange a forum for disseminate research findings and soliciting views for compiling guidelines for implementing elevator evacuation system. 


Project number9042777
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/20 → …