Why is data such an important part of smart lighting?

Data in smart lighting

Andre Jutel of amBX asks ‘why is data such an important part of smart lighting?’. It’s a broad question, but one that people within the wider smart city and IoT industries might wonder about. 

The smart building and lighting markets continue to be driven by the need for energy efficiency and the target of net-zero carbon buildings and, more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic, which has increased the need for flexible and adaptable spaces with overt wellbeing credentials.

“We all know that data these days is more valuable than gold.

The benefits for building owners as the end-user of a smart lighting solution are improved wellbeing for their occupants, greater energy efficiency, improved insight and saved costs.

It is all down to the intelligent actions resulting from the data that is captured; there is no use just capturing that raw data; it is all about what you can do with it and its potential.

Data in smart buildings is essential to understanding what your building is doing. When we look at a building, we need to realise how it is working, what spaces are being occupied, and getting feedback on how the building is being used.

This is very important for planning and understanding what to do with those spaces and learning what tasks and activities are completed in those spaces - questioning whether it is still fit for purpose?

The most important aspect

Lighting products and devices will give you information about their status, ‘health’, and when the end of life may come for those products, which is particularly important across many applications but especially emergency lighting. Emergency lighting control is probably, from the smart lighting perspective, one of the most important aspects – providing the ability to know if your building is compliant. Obviously, if your emergency lighting isn’t compliant, that is a severe issue, but the ability to monitor and schedule tests and reports is a brilliant addition to any smart lighting solution. Traditionally, emergency lighting is quite a timely, manual process, so having the ability to change it to something that is automated and easy to schedule is a huge advantage. (You can understand more about emergency lighting control here).

As we go further forward in smart lighting, one of the most important things to understand is preventative maintenance, we are going to be saving business owners a huge amount of money through what we would term “one-touch maintenance”; in other words, you go to the light fitting once, change the driver or the associated components, and you keep full service in the building, the system will continuously monitor the device and then send a notification if there is any fault or predicted maintenance due. This avoids having to go to the product 2 or 3 times to work out what the fault is, order the part and then go back to fix it; it is now a one visit scenario. Of course, that really means big cost saving in the future because you will be able to predict when things will need maintenance and take action immediately, so that data is hugely valuable.

Smart lighting controls should be utilised to gain maximum benefit from the energy being used within a building. When the building is not occupied, the sensors in the lighting should be able to react quickly and dim down or even only turn on when that luminaire or lighting in that particular area is needed. This is one of the main benefits for a building manager or FM company who manages a building; it’s down to cost savings, maximising energy efficiency, and obviously providing a comfortable environment for occupants.

Aggregate and store

Another huge benefit is knowing that all of the services within a building can talk to each other from either a central or cloud perspective and that data is converged in one front-end rather than having lots of disparate systems; the systems put into a building now must be able to aggregate and store data and allow managers to make real-time valuable decisions. Also, having more converged and integrated systems is less expensive. There are fewer systems to manage, and everything can be done from one place, which is a big advantage for the people running a building.

With the advent of circadian lighting, we can add a level of comfort and control over the lighting, whether that’s localised or centralised, the occupants of the building can select the colour temperature and intensity of the lighting and, of course, all of that is designed to make the environment more dynamic and a better experience. If you want a more relaxed environment, you will choose a warmer colour, or to be more energised, you’d select a cooler colour.

How we interact with lighting is also important, ensuring we get the right light levels; poor lighting levels generally lead to reduced concentration and awareness. Many health benefits can be gained from circadian lighting for individuals. The technology also offers benefits for the health of the building, and of course, energy efficiency is part of that. (To understand more about the benefits of circadian lighting, click here).

It’s all about future-proofing your building – ensuring your building is used to its full potential and energy isn’t wasted, it should be the perfect environment for the people within it and the tasks that are being carried out”.

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