Why two-sense elevator emergency communication is becoming the (worldwide) standard

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What is two-sense emergency communication?

Two-sense emergency communication means that a person trapped in an elevator can communicate with the emergency call center not only through a voice connection (i.e. using hearing) but can also make an emergency call using another sense (visual perception).

tft display for elevator with emergency call system
How does a two-sense emergency call work?

In an emergency, a person trapped in an elevator would press an alarm button as usual, and the emergency call would be forwarded to the call center. If the call center receives no response from the elevator, it would initiate a visual communication with the elevator, comparable to a chat function. The trapped person could respond to the authorized personnel either by pressing the available buttons on the elevator panel (simpler, inflexible systems) or via a touchscreen (more advanced, flexible systems).

What are the current European standards for elevator emergency calls?

The DIN EN 81-28 standard describes the remote emergency call system for passenger and goods elevators. The technology described in this standard enables persons trapped in an elevator to make an emergency call. The regulations include specifications for buttons, voice communication, signage, and the transmission of information.

Optionally, an elevator can be equipped according to the DIN EN 81-70 “Accessibility of lifts for persons including persons with disabilities” standard. This standard specifies concrete requirements for volume, contrast, tactility, and character size for emergency calls.

Why are the current DIN EN standards not sufficient?

The current regulations focus on people without physical limitations and people with visual impairments. However, neither of the standards considers people who are hearing-impaired, cannot speak, or who do not understand the language used in the signage or emergency call center.

What does the VDI 4705 guideline say?

The VDI 4705 guideline regulates the organizational and technical handling of emergency calls from passengers trapped in elevators. The goal of the guideline is to ensure that trapped persons can draw attention to themselves. The VDI 4705 is intended for employers or operators, builders, architects, specialist planners, inspection organizations, assembly and maintenance companies, as well as emergency services. It applies to the consideration and evaluation of emergency call management for new and existing elevators. This guideline is currently being revised due to legal, normative, and technical changes.

In summary, the VDI 4705 specifies that the operator of an elevator system must ensure that emergency calls from an elevator are responded to in a timely manner, and appropriate release measures are carried out. The operator must determine a suitable implementation from many technical and organizational solutions for each individual case. The chosen emergency call management must be documented and regularly reviewed.

According to the VDI 4705, elevators are also used by people who cannot operate the emergency call button, such as children, people with physical disabilities (e.g. limited mobility, visual impairment, hearing impairment), and people without the necessary language skills. If the use of the elevator by persons who cannot operate the emergency call device is not excluded, measures (e.g. load weighing systems, optical systems, operational monitoring systems) must be implemented to prevent people from being trapped unnoticed.

What has changed with the American ASME A17.1-2019 guideline?

With the ASME A17.1-2019, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in North America has created a standard for the first time that also takes into account passenger groups whose hearing or speech is impaired. In the future, an emergency call must be able to be made through a nonverbal channel in addition to the voice channel. For this, the emergency communication must be additionally equipped with a system that allows for a text-based chat function between the trapped passenger and authorized personnel in the emergency call center. In addition, cameras are required that allow authorized personnel to have a look inside the cabin in case of an emergency.

Is the two-sense emergency call only an American phenomenon?

It is highly likely that the two-sense emergency call will become a worldwide standard. Components of ASME A17.1-2019 have already been included in some tenders for European construction projects. In some standardization committees, the implementation of the two-sense emergency call in national regulations is already being discussed, and the VDI 4705 guideline calls for an emergency call solution that can be operated by everyone. Therefore, elevator manufacturers and operators would be wise to already now look at solutions that go beyond the current requirements of DIN EN 81-28.

What technical solution for the two-sense emergency call does ELFIN technology offer?

With the innovative flexyPage® Smart Display System and the flexyPage® Messenger, ELFIN technology offers a proven and ready-to-install solution that also covers the requirements of the two-sense emergency call according to ASME A17.1-2019 in case of an entrapment. The display solution expands existing voice emergency call systems with the text-based chat function, including a translation function and a video connection to the cabin. Trapped passengers can communicate with the emergency call center in various languages via touch function or buttons on the cabin control panel.

The displays can be retrofitted in elevators of any make and type and are compatible with all commercially available emergency call devices. In the emergency call center, the flexyPage® Messenger completes the existing systems for managing emergency calls.

The flexyPage® Messenger chat function is just one of many benefits of the smart flexyPage® display system. In an elevator, it offers the operator a variety of options for communicating with their employees, visitors, guests, or patients as well as directing or entertaining elevator users through the building. Some of these possibilities are described on flexypage.de.

Jörg Hellmich
Managing director 

About Jörg Hellmich

Jörg Hellmich has over 30 years of experience in the elevator industry and has been the CEO of ELFIN technology for over 10 years. He is constantly developing innovative solutions for the elevator industry with ELFIN technology, drawing on his extensive expertise from 20 years of control system development. As the chairman of the CANopen-Lift group, a member of standards committees of German associations VFA and VDI , and a founding and board member of NeXt group, Jörg continues to actively shape the future of the elevator industry.


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