Elevator Ethnography

George Lucchese, Eric Scott, and I performed a study of people's elevator usage at the West Campus Garage on campus at Texas A&M.

We initially wanted to observe people using elevators and see if we could find some interesting information about their usage. Since it is pretty difficult to observe all the floors at the same time, we had to figure out an interesting way to do this. Our solution was to observe the elevators in the West Campus Parking Garage, since its set of elevators is behind a glass wall and each elevator has a large windows. This enabled us to observe all the elevators on all the floors at the same time. We could easily see how many people were in an elevator and which floors they got on and off on. As an added bonus, the stairwell was right beside the elevators and also was behind a huge glass wall, so we decided to monitor the stair usage as well and compare it to the elevator usage.

This is a view of the elevators and stairs as seen from our observation point.

We recorded the gender, transportation method, number of floors traveled, and direction traveled for each person that used the elevator or stairs. We performed our observations at three times of the day: 9:00am, 12:00pm, and 5:30pm.

We gathered a large amount of data and immediately entered it into the computer and started making charts and graphs. In the end, we ended up with 11 interesting charts, most of which illustrated the obvious.

Here are some observations we made from our charts:
People travel more floors by stairs earlier in the day and fewer floors as the day goes on.

People travel about the same number of floors by elevator all day long.

People walk up stairs more floors than they walk downstairs.

People take the elevator the same number of floors whether they are going up or down.

Females tend to travel more floors than males do.

Males travel a lower number of floors than females do.

Males travel to the roof twice as much as females do. (Possible data error due to small sample size)

The same number of people travel only one floor.

Many more people travel down in the morning, and many more people travel up in the evening.

A few more people travel down at noon.

More people take the elevator than take the stairs.

People usually travel one or two floors on the stairs. Few people travel more floors on the stairs. The exact opposite is true for elevators.

Fery few people park on the first floor or roof of the garage.

People travel about the same number of floors in the morning (except the first floor and the roof).

People travel more floors at noon.

People travel fewer floors in the evening.

People travel up a few floors more than many floors.

People travel down many floors more than a few floors.

Males tend to use the elevator more often than females use the elevator for any number of floors.

As you can see, most of this data seems normal. In fact, it is.

We did come up with a couple interesting observations. First of all, we observed that most people will take the stairs if traveling two or less floors, i.e. going from the first floor to the third floor. In this case, about 75% of people will take the stairs. If traveling more than two floors, the number of people taking the stairs dramatically decreases to about 20%. We also observed that males tend to use the elevator more than females do, no matter how many floors they are traveling.

While our data does not give any immediately useful information, we believe it can be used as a basis for many other studies that can be done for both elevator/stair usage and parking issues on campus.

1 comments of glory:

Kevin said...

haha. We males are pretty lazy.

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