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For the lighting industry and the commercial sector in particular, will this pandemic accelerate the adoption of connected lighting systems?

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By Robert E. Lee

connected lightingLee leads the product marketing, strategic planning, and partnership development for Signify‘s connected LED electronics portfolio for the Commercial & Industrial (C&I) market segment in North America.

Most would agree that we are in an unprecedented period of modern human history because of the pandemic. With the mandated shutdowns, social distancing, and all the precautionary measures in place, our society is profoundly affected in more ways than one. In the midst of this madness and chaos, each of us is finding new ways to cope with and still continue our daily routines. Thankfully the internet enabled services of teleconferencing, distance learning, and media streaming can help us make the most out of the current situation. If you look back at the history of mankind, we have always bounced back from each adversity. I have no doubt that we will overcome the latest adversity by following the recommended hygiene practices, social distancing, self-sacrifices, collaboration, and creative problem-solving.

While most of us are in home confinement and practicing social distancing, what are the lessons learned and what should we do once normalcy is restored? Are there things that we can do when the pandemic is over that will not only enable us to rebound but also help us to become more resilient, stronger, and smarter?

Machine as the sensor of human experience

For the lighting industry and the commercial sector in particular, my speculation is that this pandemic will accelerate the adoption of connected lighting systems. Without getting into all the technical details, the core of any connected lighting system boils down to telemetry, which is the process of recording and transmitting the readings of an instrument. For something as indispensable to our society as lighting fixtures, telemetry technology will greatly enhance the ease of control and maintenance. Especially for the world in which travel restrictions and social distancing are encouraged and enforced, having the ability to remotely manage/monitor the lighting fixtures will become the norm going forward. A while back a presenter from a technology forum explained this Internet of Things (IoT) transformation with a very interesting perspective:

Human being has traditionally been the sensor of machine experience; however, in the world of Internet of Things (IoT), machines will become the sensor of human experience.

In the other words, the role of machine and human being will switch once we put telemetry capabilities into the devices around us.

Better preparation for when the next disaster strikes

To put the notion of connected lighting in a better context, I would like to share a situation I encountered in Chicago late last year. One day as I was driving to the south side to meet with a vendor I encountered a traffic stop. The police was ahead of where I was and was redirecting traffic. I soon realized a street light was hit earlier in the day and was precariously hanging by the power cables. After I left the meeting an hour later, I was very surprised to see that the repair crew was still there waiting for extra help to arrive.

connected lightingIf this particular street light had been part of a connected lighting system, I have no doubt this situation would have been detected and repaired faster. The repair crew would have likely been dispatched with the right replacement parts when they left the maintenance facility because of telemetry feedback. While we are seeing a growing adoption of the connected lighting systems in general, we are still at the early stages of this technology adoption. By deploying an all-digital connected lighting system as the one I described in my previous blog post, the upfront investment we make today could minimize the economic impact of accidents and natural disasters (such as hurricanes and wild fires) down the road.

Read the rest of the article on the Signify website…

Read an article from the April 2020 issue of Facility Executive on networked lighting controls here.

Editor’s Note: On Wednesday, May 6th, Facility Executive featured a free webinar “Connected Lighting: Present & Future”. Robert Lee of Signify spoke about the current state of connected lighting systems, and the opportunities for facility management professionals. Watch it here.