By Jagan Srinivasan
TODAY, light is used in a number of different ways, with emphasis not only on its technical characteristics, but also on light’s relationship with a city and its population. As the landscape around lighting continues to evolve due to urbanization, so too will the role that light has to play in public spaces—from parks to roads, and sidewalks to public squares.
Indeed, we are already seeing this happen across many forward-thinking cities. One of the key trends to date has been a shift away from lighting for cars towards lighting for people and more than that, a shift away from just street-lighting specifically. Historically, public lighting has been synonymous with street-lighting, and its main function inadvertently defined as providing visibility for drivers. This resulted in a uniform approach to public lighting as the audience was simply defined as drivers. Now more than ever, we are seeing a trend towards accommodating the general public, including pedestrians and cyclists alongside drivers, which is delivering better lighting outcomes for the public and local governments than the former approach to lighting.
While it has yet to take off in the Philippines, the public sector is steadily taking note of the outcomes of digital lighting solutions. Major cities such as Manila, Pasig, San Juan, and Taguig have recognized the advantages of light-emitting diode (LED) usage, converting and installing new lampposts across the metro. Outside Metro Manila, new wave cities like Baguio, Cebu, and General Santos are working on upgrading their respective municipalities as well.
The benefits of digital lighting in public spaces
LED lighting delivers on CO2 emission reduction targets by up to 1400 million tons per year, by replacing a uniform approach to lighting with tailored technology that is fit for use and cuts unnecessary energy consumption.
LED allows for flexibility in lighting that has not previously existed. With a programmable lighting system, local governments are able to take advantage of smart lighting systems in the event of an emergency and be able to assist in its swift resolution.
Aside from sustainability and energy-efficiency, programmable lighting diversifies the community. In early applications, lighting has proven an ideal platform for systems and software that enable people to see, feel and function better, while allowing individual structures and entire cities to operate more efficiently and more sustainably than ever before.
Philips Lighting recently implemented one of the world’s largest connected street lighting systems in Jakarta, Indonesia. The project, a significant milestone in Jakarta’s ongoing transformation into a smart city, involved upgrading nearly 90,000 street luminaries with energy efficient LED lights connected to a Philips CityTouch lighting management system. This initiative helps the city reduce energy expenses and improve public services while enabling citizens to live safely and comfortably.
Before the project, the city’s streets and public areas relied almost entirely on conventional lighting technology with no remote monitoring capabilities. The key benefit of Philips CityTouch is that each light point is connected and performance data is sent through existing cellular networks to the city’s lighting office or operator.
The data enables the city officials to efficiently monitor the city’s lighting infrastructure and remotely manage illumination levels to match different needs by district. For example, in the late evening when traffic is low, Jakarta’s lighting office can dim the lighting by 50 percent, resulting in additional energy savings.
On the other hand, the state of Melaka was the first in Malaysia to successfully deploy a cloud-based, intelligent street lighting management system through Philips CityTouch.
The system upgrade is part of Melaka’s Green City Action Plan (GCAP) to make Melaka a Green Technology State by 2020. This reflects the state government’s commitment to uphold the heritage of the city with more sustainable developments for its residents and tourists. Over 1,060 units of 250W conventional streetlights were replaced with 150W Philips CityTouch LED luminaires in the central parts of Melaka and major arteries into the city.
Through customizable settings and remote management, the new lighting system can potentially offer savings of up to 80%. Operational efficiency is also improved with less reliance on manpower to determine faulty or non-functioning lights. Maintenance cost is sharply reduced, while faster response and more accurate diagnostics are rendered.
Although Jakarta and Melaka vary in terms of the size of installation, Philips CityTouch technology can be scaled to deliver significant benefits for small- or medium-sized cities. The combination of LED luminaires and remote monitoring using the Philips CityTouch lighting management system enables energy and operational savings.
Connected lighting can serve as the backbone of a smart city. The ease with which LED light points can be connected, coupled with their ability to be monitored and controlled wirelessly in the Internet of Things, offers game changing innovations in city, office, retail and residential environments.
With the rapid technological evolution of lighting and the prospects these advancements present, we will likely see local governments look for continued efficiency when it comes to lighting. In addition, we expect to see more dynamic, responsive and interactive solutions applied across cities, as governments realize the full potential of lighting.
As society continues to evolve, there is a greater need to understand the contribution of light and sustainability in technologies in the urban context. No doubt, the collaboration of design and implementation of sustainability and light technologies will bring the best results across all facets of public lighting design and safety.