Why smart lighting is considered as a foundation for smart cities?
Connected things form the basis for smart cities. These connected things need network backbone which shall be spread across the city. Streetlight poles are spread across the city and they can be an excellent option for providing the backbone network for smart city infrastructure. Each streetlight pole can support sensors in the surrounding area and carry their data to the command centre.
Smart lighting offers complete view of city-wide lighting installation from central command centre. It enables automatic switching of lights, which gives energy savings by avoiding wrong switching times. It also offers paradigm shift in maintenance from complaint based to proactive as smart lighting automatically highlights any failure in lights.
Streetlight poles themselves can have many sensors which collect valuable data like air quality levels, noise levels, traffic density in a given area, parking space availability etc. This data which can be easily collected and made available at command centre without any additional infrastructure can enable various services for city residents. Civic authorities can use this data for planning and future works. Historical data can even give insights into how to tackle urban problems of high pollution, sluggish traffic etc.
Smart poles along with smart lighting can help increasing penetration of futuristic communication technologies like 5G. Replacing some of the streetlight poles with smart poles can give readily available infrastructure for hosting telecom equipment.
Smart poles also support many additional services like Wi-Fi access points for making city friendlier for residents and especially tourists. They can also support CCTV cameras increasing number of surveillance points in the city making the city safer. Conveniently located smart poles also support charging points for EV vehicles which will facilitate ease of use for EV vehicles.
In a connected environment, the possibilities with digital smart lighting is enormous. Intelligent and smart LED outdoor light fittings and smart sensors can act as information nodes, beyond providing the necessary illumination level, visual orientation and beautification. It is possible for street and public space lights to adapt to weather conditions, traffic densities etc and change light intensity and spectral composition accordingly. Lighting performance, energy monitoring and asset management can be done effectively. Lighting of streets, public spaces, iconic building and architecture can be networked to create identity and yet save energy. Most importantly, light points in smart city can act as nodes for data collection and data streaming.
In a building, why connectivity is critical to smart lighting?
Today, everything is getting smart and buildings can’t be left behind. Smart lighting can be easily leveraged to make buildings smart. In buildings again, the lights are the devices that are necessarily present in all the areas of the building and can form a network of nodes. And unless we are referring to isolated individual work spaces or a very small office or work spaces within a building, individual smart lights won’t be able to deliver what a networked lighting system can deliver. For large work spaces or buildings, unless there is central control and a connected lighting system the true benefits can’t be delivered. Today smart lights for building are connected to each other and to sensors. This connectivity enables much finer control and data gathering throughout the building which is critical to leverage the intelligence.
Smart connected lights enable lighting control of the whole building from central and even remote locations. It allows good levels of control like human centric lighting which cannot be deployed without connected lights. Connected lights when used with correct sensors help save energy by reducing wastage of light when not needed, either due to non-occupancy of room or due to presence of natural light.
Sensors when used in tandem to connected lights give finer data collection in building for parameters like occupancy, temperature, air quality, ambient light etc. This data can be used for higher level applications. Occupancy data can be used for space management, very useful in dynamic space allocation in offices. Temperature data along with occupancy data can be used for much finer HVAC control giving savings that were never thought of before. Air quality data can be used for proper air circulation and air purification. All this can be done either with using wired or wireless systems or PoE.
Next wave of technology in office lighting space after LED is going to be Human Centric Lighting (HCL). Purpose of HCL is to replicate same light condition indoors as outdoors. This has proven to improve health, wellbeing and focus of people working under such lights. Connected lights are a basic infrastructure needed to deploy HCL.
As buildings adopt LED lighting, the true potential of digital LED lighting can be harnessed when it is connected. Light nodes can be connected to other services like security, surveillance, air-conditioning, human occupancy, daylight. Smart connected lighting can assist facility managers to monitor energy consumption, burning hours and health of light fittings and asset management. Connected intelligent lighting can be used as location tracker and even stream data.
Does smart lighting contribute to energy savings?
Yes, of course, it is the basic deliverable. With advent of digital LED lighting, system efficiencies have already improved manifolds, which led to significant energy savings as compared to conventional light sources. In a connected environment intelligent lights linked to occupancy and daylight not only help saving energy in lighting, it can save air-conditioning load when connected on the same network. However, it would be sub-optimal utilisation, if smart connected lighting is construed as a means to only energy saving. It is a means to a improve well-being in spaces, helping to enhance ambience while saving energy.
Depending on the application and extent of smartness built into the system, smart lighting can contribute to energy savings apart from various other meaningful advantages.
In case of outdoor lighting, especially streetlighting, major energy wastage is due to switching lights ON/OFF at wrong times. That essentially means that light is ON even when sufficient natural light is still present and switched OFF much after the sun is out. Both these cases result into energy wastage and can be prevented by using connected street lighting. Connected lights will make sure they are never ON before local sunset time and never ON after local sunrise times. Moreover, these times are automatically adjusted as
per time of the year, so seasonal variations in sunrise and sunset times are accounted for.
Further energy can be saved even more in street lighting applications by employing sensors like motion sensors and ambient sensor or getting linked to HVAC. For effective use of these, connected lights are necessary. Adding ambient light sensor in each light is costly and unnecessary as ambient light doesn’t change much for few kilometres. Having one good quality sensor for few hundreds of connected lights can be a good strategy. Similarly, having motion sensor on each streetlight pole can be costly. But if streetlights are connected to each other then we can even have one motion sensor after few poles and it will still be able to save energy by dimming down streetlights in late night hours in absence of motion.
Consider the case of indoor lighting, there is huge scope of energy savings by dimming or switching OFF lights when there is either no occupancy around the light or there is sufficient natural light present. These could be done by standalone sensors too but implementing this using connected lights saves cost of sensors as same sensor could be used to control multiple lights.
Integration of these systems into BMS opens various other possible avenues as well.
One often ignored advantage of connected lighting is saving on maintenance on the top of savings in energy. Especially in street lighting applications, having connected street lights with proactive fault reporting can reduce per light maintenance budget significantly.