Elevator Video Communication for 2018 IBC Code Update (Part 2)
What Technical Upgrades Are Required for Your Elevator to Establish Code Compliance with Elevator Video Communication Changes to the 2018 International Building Code?
This is part two of our article on changes to the 2018 International Building Code regarding emergency elevator communication systems for the deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired. Part one focused on some basics of IBC and featured a Q&A session with Dennis Mason, CEO of Kings III Emergency Communications and Certified Elevator Inspector. That Q&A covered the updates to the elevator code, who it affects, what it is meant to solve and what we expect to come from it. Read the full article here.
Part two will focus on the technical aspects of how the updated elevator code in IBC 2018 can be met from our perspective and also will detail why Kings III and TouchSource have partnered to offer a solution specifically geared to meet this new code. This Q&A session was conducted in two parts. The first set of questions have been fielded by Dave Mann, Vice President of Technology at Kings III Emergency Communications. The second set has been fielded by Ajay Kapoor, CEO of TouchSource.
As Vice President of Technology, Mr. Mann is responsible for the technology infrastructure that enables operations and all Kings III services offered to customers. Dave has more than 30 years career experience having worked with major 3rd party security and fire central stations as well as operating his own consulting firm serving the same industry. Having worked with and advised central stations large and small, proprietary, full-service, and 3rd party, Dave has designed, implemented, upgraded, redesigned, and retired and replaced innumerable systems, processes, business models, work flows, and building designs.
Mr. Kapoor is CEO at TouchSource, a Colorado-based electronic directory and digital information systems company and a member of the Inc 5000 fastest growing companies in the country. Ajay has built and led teams focused on enhancing customer experience through services, engineering and product innovations across telecommunications, IT and media. He possesses a unique combination of consulting, engineering, and operational management skills. Under Ajay’s leadership, TouchSource has been leading the market space in digital solutions for Commercial Offices, Healthcare, Education, Retail, Government, and large Enterprises.
Before diving into the Q&A, let’s first revisit the updated code:
3001.2 Emergency elevator communication systems for the deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired. An emergency two-way communication system shall be provided that:
1. Is a visual and text-based and a video-based 24/7 live interactive system.
2. Is fully accessible by the deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired, and shall include voice-only options for hearing individuals.
3. Has the ability to communicate with emergency personnel utilizing existing video conferencing technology, chat/text software or other approved technology.
Q&A with Dave:
1. Describe Kings III’s solution to this new code requirement.
A: We will use our existing code compliant phones in conjunction with the two-way video components from TouchSource. When our Kings III Emergency Dispatch Center (EDC) is alerted to an entrapment, we will connect to the elevator car camera to augment our audio communication. If the individual that is entrapped is deaf, we will employ Video Relay Interpreters to communicate with them.
2. How will this work? How will the video display and phone interact with each other from a technical perspective?
A: In this initial system, the phone and the video are separate systems. We combine their functionality at the EDC. The phone creates an inbound call to the EDC and while the EDC begins working the call, our software will connect to the video system in the elevator.
3. What will this change about the way Kings III emergency operators currently respond to emergency calls?
A: Adding video to any call received can help determine if there is anyone on the elevator at the time we connect or possibly if someone is in the elevator and is not able to respond.
4. How will the new two-way video communication system change the end user/caller experience?
A: Being able to potentially see an issue that is not apparent in an audio-only session could create a much-improved outcome for the caller when they are unable to respond to us audibly. For Kings III property manager and building owner customers, where enabled, this will allow us to have visual confirmation of entrapped passengers vs a false alarm and empty elevator.
5. Will this change any additional technical features in the current Kings III monitoring service?
A: No change to existing features, only the addition of 2-way video.
6. Will customers still have the option to utilize either landlines (line seizure) or cellular service or will this be cellular only?
A: In this iteration, the customer can use all existing options for the phone. Since the video is separate from the communication path of the phone, some form of broadband data will need to be available for the video component.
7. Any concerns with the use of VoIP with this solution? Any hurdles?
A: The video portion is a data-only communication path and we’d always opt for the simplest and most capable service available. Being dependent on customer networks for emergency services is always concerning, both for us as well as for customer company internal IT teams, so establishing a data connection independent of the customer network will be explored.
8. As someone with 30 years of experience in the alarm industry and more specifically as someone managing the technical side of emergency alarm centers, what is your opinion on any unforeseen benefits of this new code? Unforeseen issues?
A: There will be hurdles and benefits that fall outside the scope and reasoning of the code. Video adds a dynamic element that doesn’t exist in an audio-only environment. As we’ve learned, sometimes our phones are used for ‘off-script’ purposes, such as reporting crimes or fires, kids getting locked out of their apartments, and other on-demand or creative uses.
9. Why did TouchSource make sense as a partner for Kings III? What does each bring to the table?
A: From my perspective, they have an established product that they are willing to develop for use in our scenario and they are as accessible and willing to strive for a good fit as we are.
Q&A with Ajay Kapoor, CEO of TouchSource:
1. How does Touch Source fit into this picture as a solution to this new code requirement?
A: TouchSource has been the leader in digital information solutions for commercial real estate, healthcare, and education for nearly twenty years. Throughout that time, we have focused on useful and relevant information to tenants and visitors to improve the overall experience. This background helped us complement the Kings III solution by doing a few critical things:
1. Provide a robust, centrally operated video interface to Kings III operators in the elevator cabinet
2. Support immediate status messaging to the display controlled by remote operators during distress situations
3. Extend TouchSource’s digital solutions into the elevator to provide utility to passengers outside of emergencies through engaging content, information updates, and managed branding
2. What is unique about your digital display system? What sets you apart from other technology competitors?
A: First, the TouchSource solution takes potentially complex problems and turns them into very simple solutions. While other competitors provide cumbersome interfaces to control content or closed systems for video calling, TouchSource created an extremely simple and intuitive solution that allows for seamless integration with Kings III’s emergency elevator phone monitoring. In addition, the TouchSource portfolio of solutions enables a property manager to have seamless content and messaging throughout their building and their elevators while now also providing for safety and security during distress situations.
3. Your digital technologies focus on providing a self-service and information solutions for end users. Can you comment on how you think that translates to this new two-way video communication systems in elevators?
A: Property managers have been struggling for years in identifying the best ways to communicate with tenants or visitors to their buildings. Elevators have been an obvious place to target messaging but it was either poorly done or flooded with useless advertising. With TouchSource’s background that focuses on relevant information and content throughout a building, it was natural to extend this solution to the elevator. Now with the need for two-way video for communication, that digital screen becomes an imperative in all elevators, but two-way video is only used for minutes a year. By combining TouchSource’s expertise in relevant information and content with the need for a digital footprint in the elevator, it translates into a utility that can provided an upgraded visitor experience while enhancing safety and security, when needed.
4. Does the combination of video and the elevator’s communication system empower end users?
A: Absolutely. For those with disabilities, the benefits are tremendous as they can effectively communicate during an emergency like never before in an elevator. For those without disabilities, there is the ability to communicate more effectively, if needed, to show the operator what is happening in the elevator. This could be used if there is a safety concern not related to elevator operations or any other disturbance where “eyes in the cab” would help.
5. Do you envision there being a learning curve for the use of this system or do you believe the public will adopt it naturally?
A: Two-way video has become a common point of communication in the lives of most people whether through Apple’s FaceTime, Microsoft’s Skype, or Google’s Hangouts, video calling is becoming a norm. Skype recently reported that they have supported over 2 trillion video calls and every day more and more people are making video calls throughout their daily lives. That growth in video calling and the ease of which a video call is made in the elevator will make the adoption of this solution fairly simple for end users and property managers.
6. How do you think this new end user/caller experience will translate for building owner and property management customers?
A: It is extremely rare for a building owner or property manager to be able to make a single investment that will increase compliance, boost safety, and upgrade the overall tenant experience. By combining the engaging content from TouchSource with the robust emergency communication from Kings III, building owners and property managers can accomplish all 3 of those goals very simply.
7. Where does the content come into play for this solution?
A: Content is the key for the end user. If only a small number of elevator trips result in an emergency call, the digital solution would be idle for a majority of the time. However, by providing relevant, localized, and informative content through the digital display, the property manager is now delivering an upgraded amenity to their buildings. Their tenants stay engaged and informed on their elevator journeys, while having the safety and security of the two-way video solution always there ready to help.
8. Why did Kings III make sense as a partner for TouchSource? What does each bring to the table?
A: Kings III was a natural partner for TouchSource for 3 key reasons:
1. Kings III is the leader in emergency communications for elevators and their expertise is unmatched in the space
2. TouchSource and Kings III both share a passion for simple, effective solutions for our customers. As a result, our technology fits very well together
3. TouchSource and Kings III are both customer centric organizations and that is critical as TouchSource provides more and more solutions that aid safety and security. It was without question, that Kings III would put the customer first and that is very important to the TouchSuorce team.
With those reasons as the backdrop, the value from each company was readily apparent. TouchSource brought expertise in digital content solutions including two-way communication solutions that are deployed across North America. Kings III brought world-class expertise in elevator emergency communications including the software, operations, and compliance requirements to pull it all together.
Kings III Emergency Communications has been providing complete, compliant and affordable emergency phone solutions for elevators, poolside, stairwells, parking areas and more for nearly three decades, monitoring more than 50,000 help phones across the U.S. Our all-inclusive turnkey solution includes equipment, installation, maintenance and 24/7 monitoring at our very own Emergency Dispatch Center for one low price.
Two key differentiators include our smart line seizure technology which eliminates costly dedicated emergency phone lines and our digital recording and storing of all calls. These coupled with advanced operator training and many other value-added benefits allow us to reduce risk, liability and costs for our customers.
Made and supported in the USA. For more information, visit our services page.
TouchSource offers a wide range of engagement solutions to improve the visitor/tenant experience. With more than 20 years in the industry and over 6,500 installations worldwide, we offer best-in-class warranty, service, and support.
In addition to activating your space, TouchSource solutions save you time, money and headaches. They’re easy to deploy, easy to use, and easy to update. You can even update multiple directories throughout your building from a single login to the TouchSource Cloud in a few second per listing. We’re focused on simplicity.
Made and supported in the USA in beautiful Colorado. For more information, visit www.touchsource.com
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