Get smart. Lighting the pathway to insight and control

Darren Riva, Northern European Zumtobel Group Services Director

We hear a lot about ‘smart’ technology at the moment – smart TVs and smart fridges in the home, extending to smart buildings and even smart cities. But what does ‘smart’ really mean?

Too often, the terminology is used to simply mean web connected or app operated. But for connected devices and solutions to really be smart, they must be able to deliver insight and control back to the user.

Smart lighting

As a conduit for connectivity and data, lighting has one major advantage – it is everywhere that people are. LED lighting can act as a platform to deliver a wide variety of intelligent applications and improved functionality. Whilst this presents businesses with myriad options it also demands a change of mindset. Business leaders must recognise the emergence of lighting provision as an essential element of business strategy rather than a legacy service.

Lighting should not be a static, ‘once and done’ solution. Numerous factors affect the requirement for light on any given day –the time of day, the type of business being conducted, and more. Flexible, intelligent lighting is providing businesses with the tailored solutions that they crave and even shaping how our cities function and evolve.

Today’s lighting decisions are not solely about light provision but also about the type and frequency of data that is captured and how that data might then improve business performance. Solutions must have the flexibility and ease of control to adapt to changing room, building or city needs.

Capture intelligence

Intelligent systems can sense when space is occupied, providing invaluable data on building usage, footfall, and under-occupied space. Indeed, this intelligence has moved beyond the boundaries of the office or work environment to now be used city-wide by authorities across the globe. Street lighting is capturing data on pollution, traffic-flow, sound levels and more, and sensors trigger lighting in side-streets and cycle paths to provide a safer, more welcoming environment for citizens.

Distinct and tailored lighting solutions exist to control lighting at room, floor, building and city level. These are non-proprietary, open-architecture solutions, designed to work with existing IT platforms and to allow scalability. The onus is on decision-makers to understand current needs but to also project forward so that lighting installed today can deliver insight and value for years to come.

Often, such expertise will not exist in-house. As lighting solutions become evermore sophisticated, so the value of third-party expert consultancy grows. The importance of the right lighting cannot be overplayed. We worked with a nursing home in Vienna to establish the correct light levels and colour temperature. Colour temperature has a proven effect on mood, and by adjusting its lighting the nursing home has reported an increase in the level of sociability between residents and a decrease in the amount of drugs issued. Significant results.

The lighting as a service model

The days of businesses being held to ransom over legacy lighting service contracts are over. Lighting as a service moves lighting provision to a true partnership where the performance of the lighting solution is managed by experts over its lifetime.

A lighting as a service model protects customers from any loss in asset value because the basis of the service is not about simply selling luminaries but about guaranteeing future lighting performance. So, such a service enables customers to benefit from LED technology – and from future developments – without the hassle of owning and maintaining the lighting solution themselves.

The future-proofing advantages of lighting as a service are critical. Without such a model in place, every new technological advancement would require significant capital expenditure. Lighting as a service provides buyers with the necessary consultative expertise to enable them to stay a step ahead.

Smart future

Today’s sophisticated controls and systems are taking lighting beyond illumination towards data capture and business insight. A tailored, optimised lighting system can have a significant impact – not only on an organisation’s bottom line but also on employee performance and business intelligence. This is why leading businesses across many sectors are partnering with lighting specialists in order to create environments that are safe, efficient and geared towards productivity and optimal employee performance.

The smart buyers are those that use lighting strategically to deliver tangible business benefits now, and ongoing strategic advances well into the future.