KONE is adding its products to the Internet of Things and pushing data into a cloud-based cognitive-computing platform called Watson.

“Having more than one million elevators and escalators connected with IBM’s Watson cloud platform will give us important insights into the flow of people within buildings,” says Larry Wash, executive vice president, KONE Americas, Lisle, Ill.

Watson hopes to deliver insights that KONE’s human staff hasn’t yet imagined. Its cognitive capabilities mirror some of the human mind’s processes, allowing it to recognize and digest unstructured data—the kind that sensors in KONE products will collect.

As that data rolls in, Watson processes it, pulls out relevant data and connects dots that humans might not think to match. Watson “imagines” what can be learned from raw data and delivers new insights.

Urbanization is driving the need for new insights. “Buildings are continuing to grow in height, and, with that, there’s added challenge to move people seamlessly within them,” says Wash. Through monitoring KONE’s data Watson may recognize patters in the movement of humans through buildings to optimize that flow. A billion people a day move through KONE elevators, escalators, doors and turnstiles, says Wash.

“We have to constantly innovate to enable a more vertical world,” says Harriet Green, general manager, IBM Watson, Internet of Things. As buildings get taller, with the capacity to serve tens of thousands of users simultaneously, there is more pressure than ever on elevators and escalators to keep people moving smoothly, says Green. Knowing more about equipment, in real time, can minimize downtime, speed in-building journeys and enhance safety for users, she adds.

For example, Watson could cut response time by automating commands and equipment tests to troubleshoot remotely. At present, KONE dispatches a service engineer to inspect any issues.

Another example of how Watson might help improve KONE’s people moving is to call elevators to certain floors ahead of time during peak traffic, says Wash. “We see a huge opportunity for services and applications based on analyzed customer data,” he says.