By Thierry Boulanger, CEO, Philips Lighting Africa
Technology trends like social, mobility, analytics and cloud computing have been reshaping the operating environment and customer expectations for companies within virtually every industry. However, few modern industries are undertaking the transformation that is currently taking place in the lighting sector. The solid-state lighting revolution is arguably the most profound of these changes; connected lighting technologies and Light Emitting Diodes - LEDs are transforming the nature of lighting - how and where, artificial light is used to enhance the human experience.
Conventional lighting is, for the most part, either on, off or dimmed. LEDs, however, are able to create new experiences and enable entirely new paradigms of creativity, because these provide a palette of millions of colours and dynamic effects that conventional lighting cannot match in dynamic design, scene-setting and ambience. LEDs can be embedded in furniture, walls, and ceilings - almost everywhere, and because these are digital, LEDs are programmable, presenting infinite possibilities for creative use and efficient management.
LEDs also make a huge contribution to energy-efficiency and environmental health. Even if you’re not worried about the environmental benefits of energy-efficiency, the financial savings — now more than ever— have great relevance in the current economic environment. Energy efficient technology and power alternatives have come into the spotlight again, due to load shedding remaining top of mind as a business challenge for organisations of all sizes.
Lighting is the low-hanging fruit of reducing energy consumption: it accounts for 19% of the world’s energy use. In Africa, lighting is thought to consume around 15% of the total electricity output of an industrialized economy like South Africa.
Enlightening cities within smarter, greener lighting solutions
It has been calculated that approximately half of a city’s energy bill goes on lighting – for public offices, schools and outdoor environments. This allows for the possibility of massive savings – on average 40% – simply by removing the inefficient outdoor road and street lighting. More and more cities find that when they switch to LED lighting, reductions of between 40% and 70% can be achieved on their energy bill. Beyond the power savings, the sense of safety and liveability in the city improves, and the crime rates even potentially go down.
Some of the world’s largest cities, including cities across Africa are polluted, energy inefficient and stressful environments for occupants. As such, they exemplify the limitations of our linear economy, which is designed to produce masses of low-cost products that are briefly used and easily discarded. In light of the world’s growing cities and dwindling resources, this way of living and producing is unsustainable.
At Philips, we believe that cities can be better places. They can offer a healthy balance between productivity and quality of life. They can empower community living and help you work from home. They can be greener cities, too, and make more sustainable use of energy.
To realise this vision, we need to change how we build and run our cities. One key opportunity is to create a safer and healthier environment through more light and energy efficient lighting. Another opportunity is to replace the habits of the linear economy with principles of the circular economy. This means designing and developing products for multiple re-use, such as selling light as a service rather than a product, and returning the luminaire at end of life back to us. This radically different approach would make cities more sustainable, save costs and generate new opportunities for growth.
The innovative lighting solutions of tomorrow
Recently Philips launched the world’s first complete Power-over-Ethernet connected lighting system for open-plan offices. This solution provides workers with personal control of their office lighting via their smartphone, and building managers with new insights into building usage. The intelligent lighting system can incorporate sensors to provide encrypted occupancy and climate data for more efficient facility management and energy savings. At the same time, it gives office workers more control of their open-plan environment, aiding comfort and productivity.
For building owners, this intelligent system not only offers energy efficiency and cost savings on installation, but also advanced capabilities such as indoor positioning, thereby enabling comfort, personalisation and safety, which will increase the total value of a building, and make it more attractive to tenants.
Additionally, LED systems enable facility owners and municipalities to apply lighting creatively, without compromising on light quality. With connected LED lighting, lamp poles have the potential to become a form of digital real estate, providing additional functionalities and services which help to create safer, more efficient and more appealing urban environments, promote commerce and tourism, and attract inward investment.
Innovative technology such as this not only offers African countries the ability to cut down on their power usage and deliver access to more functionality in terms of the lighting solutions, it also presents them with a very real opportunity to leap-frog developed countries in the race toward full digital functionality and connectivity.