Elevator Social Engineering

I’ve spent years fiddling with social engineering at a bank of elevators. At first it was just part of the job (getting past security) and now it’s become something more of an analytic game.

Let’s say you have six doors, where you have to push the button and wait for one to open. A crowd forms, three, five, maybe even seven people. Should you try to jump in first when the door opens?


Time and again I find it better to step towards the door and hold it open until it’s completely full. Everyone else will move sheepishly towards the first door they see, or at least the closest open one. Encourage this behavior and help as many people as possible quickly squeeze into a tiny box together. Maybe even push all the floor buttons for them. Then jump out and let the doors close without you inside. The more you pushed in the better.

Pat yourself on the back, push the elevator button again and step alone into the next elevator that opens its doors. Of course the congratulations really depends on how well you estimated flow of arriving passengers and where they’re going (could be a group together choosing a single floor).

It’s a great game of allocation logistics that soon will be replaced by computers assigning people to elevators using basic math. Enjoy it while you can.

One thought on “Elevator Social Engineering”

  1. The elevator allocation system you describe (the second one, not the social-engineering one, heh) has been in production use in the CentralWorld office tower in Bangkok, Thailand, for at least the last 8 years.

    I’ve never seen it anywhere else in the world. But it works astonishingly well.

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