By Joseph Wong
Over the centuries, the global population has seen remarkable growth and a surge in industrialisation across economies. This transformation has led to a significant migration of people from rural to urban areas, a phenomenon known as urbanisation. Malaysia has experienced a remarkable shift, with its urbanisation rate tripling over the past five decades, increasing from 28.4% in 1970 to 75.1% in 2020, as reported by the Statistics Department of Malaysia.
Projections from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs suggest this trend will continue, with an expected urbanisation rate of approximately 81.8% by 2030. This rapid urban expansion places a spotlight on the need for efficient and sustainable mobility solutions within urban areas, especially in high-density, vertical living environments.
Hence, people flow, the movement of individuals within and between buildings, is a vital component for the seamless operation of urban areas. Everyone can relate to situations where efficient people flow is crucial - long queues in the lobby after office hours or crowded elevators during the lunch rush in an office building. Optimal people flow ensures smooth, safe, and comfortable movement, minimising waiting times and providing an enjoyable experience from arrival to the final destination. It encompasses more than just transportation within buildings; it represents a comprehensive philosophy of urban mobility that prioritises the well-being and convenience of individuals as they navigate the urban landscape.
This holistic approach aims to create environments where individuals can move with ease, connecting seamlessly with places and spaces that enrich their lives. This not only fosters vitality within urban areas but also lays the foundation for vibrant, sustainable smart cities.
Innovative vertical transportation
In high-density urban environments, where a large number of people share limited space, efficient and well-designed vertical transportation systems are of paramount importance. Innovations in elevator and escalator solutions are focused on optimising space utilisation and enhancing the overall user experience. These innovations can achieve a 50% increase in people flow performance, which is integral to enhancing urban mobility.
A striking example of innovative vertical transportation in action can be found in Merdeka 118, the world's second tallest building. KONE, a pioneer in the elevator and escalator industry, played a pivotal role in this iconic project, said its Malaysia managing director Teoh Tze Ping. Merdeka 118, soaring to a staggering height of 678.9m, features the world's highest escalators and a comprehensive vertical transportation system comprising 89 elevators, including 37 double-deck elevators. This system is complemented by a 3rd generation destination control system and emergency evacuation elevators, he revealed.
The choice of double-deck elevators was strategic, optimising floor space and accommodating high traffic during peak office hours. No doubt, new elevator systems continue to significantly reduce wait times, resulting in shorter than the prevailing industry standard during peak hours.
Safety is a paramount concern in high-rise, where emergency evacuation elevators now supplement traditional stairwell exits. Such specialised elevators are designed for swift and secure passenger transport during emergency situations. Their user-friendly interfaces provide crucial information to passengers, ensuring both efficiency and safety.
In the dynamic landscape of urbanisation, efficient people flow within high-density and new tall buildings like Merdeka 118 or Exchange 106 is paramount. And there are always new innovations on the horizon. Already in the market are horizontal elevators by other lift makers, meaning that users can not only go up and down but also sideways to accommodate new building designs.
As Malaysian cities continue to grow and evolve, the demand for innovative vertical transportation systems rises. These systems play a crucial role in ensuring seamless movement within bustling urban environments, creating accessible, safe and convenient urban spaces that cater to the evolving needs of modern societies. This holistic approach not only supports the demands of urbanisation but also fosters the development of smart and sustainable communities in Malaysia, ensuring that our cities remain vibrant and livable for years to come.