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Tapping the potential of urbanization

Henrik Ehrnrooth, President and CEO, KONE Corporation tells us how KONE contributes to the creation of liveable and sustainable cities in different parts of the world.

Q. What does urbanization mean for KONE?
A: Over the next 15 years, over a billion people will move into cities. Asia Pacific will see an increase of about 350 million, with Africa and Middle East growing by the same amount. What all of this means is a global growth rate of about 140 people every minute, which is incredible. At KONE, our mission is to improve the flow of urban life, to make cities better places to live in and to help people move conveniently, safely, in these rapidly urbanizing environments. Urbanization is important for us, because it generates new needs for buildings and infrastructure, for affordable living standards, while providing for eco-efficient and sustainable societies. By understanding these fundamental needs for smart urbanization and by focusing on improvements for people, we believe we can deliver on our mission and create more value for our customers and the people who use our equipment. .

Q: How are your markets in Europe and US different from emerging economies? A: There is a new wave of urbanization in Europe and the US driven by two specific shifts – an aging population and changing preferences from younger generations. As people get older they are moving away from suburbs into cities, where services are closer. They are able to access care services, or shops, or use public transport, while some others stay longer in their own homes, which means their buildings must have good accessibility and our people flow solutions play a key role there.

There is a growing demand for single-person housing in the US and Europe, as people are living alone for longer periods of time. Younger generations now prefer to live in cities and most of the time they opt for public transportation instead of cars. So you see the choices are changing and that dictates the nature of urbanization.

Q. What is key in managing complexities of different markets?
A: The most important thing is to have a granular understanding of the needs of end users and customers in every individual market. For example, buildings in Asia are on an average much higher than those in Europe and North America, which are low rise. That calls for unique solutions in people flow experience while minimizing energy consumption. Our broad network around the world, with strong local operations, helps us understand what is happening in specific markets and make adjustments accordingly.

Q: There is a lot of debate on how cities should be built, but there are no clear answers. How does KONE contribute in creating sustainable cities?
A: At KONE, we look at how we can help cities grow in a sustainable way and improve the quality of life for people. As buildings consume a significant amount of energy in the world, there is a great opportunity for us to provide best people flow experience and minimize energy consumption. This is what we do. We want to make crowded cities function better. Our solutions are planned meticulously to ensure that the movement of people is seamless, comfortable, pleasant and above all, safe.

Q: What do you think will be the new talking points in the urbanization story?
A: Going forward, there will be an increased emphasis on diversity. It will become more important to create urban centers and environments that integrate people from different demographic backgrounds, age groups and so on. Another focus point will be to build the whole infrastructure network economy – education, healthcare and employment opportunities - as part of the process of good urbanization.

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