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Elevator and Escalator Consulting Engineers

Elevators as Policemen

The Singapore housing authorities have installed urine detectors in certain of their elevator car cabs - principally in various subsidized low rental housing developments.

The detector when it senses urine in the cab, presumably because someone has decided not to wait, causes the elevator to shut down with the doors closed. The passenger is then trapped until the police arrive.
 
Whatever the moral and practical merits of this device, it perhaps reflects a growing trend to replace the "men in blue" with machines and electronics. Obviously, an elevator cab is ideal for this purpose since it is, in effect, a ready-made prison cell. The mind boggles at the possibilities: we could have people press their hands on a palm print sensor in the cab as a prerequisite to activating a push button. If the prints were those of a wanted villain then the elevator could be stopped and the miscreant trapped to await the ministrations of the forces of law and order.

Nor do we need to stop there. We could construct high rise schools with elevators that would allow pupils to access the upper floors only if they could answer skill-testing questions posed by the elevator. Those that could not answer the questions would have to walk up. There is, as always, a down side to this. The students who were always using the stairs would become physically fitter than those who did not - which would mean that the split in our scholastic population between nerds and jocks would widen.