How IoT lighting will transform facility management in 2020

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IoT lighting represented by a light bulb.

Signify illuminates the role IoT lighting technology will play in boosting productivity and well-being across the built environment in 2020.

The company undertook a survey to determine the most common challenges faced by businesses and how IoT lighting and other IoT technology can address these challenges. While the survey focused on small to medium organisations, there are relevant learnings here for facility managers as well. To investigate these learnings, FM talks with Signify spokesperson Simon O’Donnelly.

FM: To begin, what is IoT lighting and what benefits does it offer on a broad basis?

Simon O’Donnelly: Simply put, IoT lighting is connected lighting solutions that are networked together, supported by a cloud-based platform in order to control small-, medium- or large-scale systems. These solutions allow FMs to collect data from sensors embedded in the lighting systems and gain insights into how a building and business operates, thus being able to further optimise lighting preferences, energy usage and even building space utilisation.

Along with the primary benefits of reduced cost and sustainability, IoT lighting systems also make a strong case for employee well-being. With this technology in the workplace, both managers and employees can easily tune light intensity or colour temperature to reduce glare, improve mood and boost concentration. Research has shown that businesses that have adopted IoT-based lighting have seen improved employee engagement, well-being, and productivity.

Facility managers are constantly being told to consider a wide range of innovations and technologies for use in their assets. Why should IoT lighting be their number one priority?

As one of the largest electrical components in any facility, lighting provides the perfect opportunity to invest in both technology and intelligence. ‘Connected, smart buildings’ are leveraging innovative technologies to promote greater productivity, conserve energy and reduce waste. Since lighting infrastructure is already in place in existing facilities, it is also relatively easy to upgrade to an IoT-based system and realise immediate results and benefits.

Beyond the initial energy efficiency gains, an IoT-networked lighting system also provides highly beneficial insights through a level of artificial intelligence and learning. This supports the delivery of greater connectivity, increased health and well-being for the office or building space users, plus an improved overall experience of the environment.

Companies, employees and the business community overall are striving for workplaces that reflect their values, attitudes and working styles and, as such, FMs should be looking to invest in technology that can future-proof their facilities.

What role does IoT lighting play in delivering an efficient smart facility?

From data governance and data sharing to data access, IoT lighting provides facilities with the ability to completely transform their workplace into an efficient smart facility. IoT systems offer the ability to monitor, manage and maintain lighting systems in real time, resulting in an enhanced culture of predictive maintenance. This technology also has the ability to completely optimise the usage of facility space; sensors in the lighting can track and monitor how each square foot is being used. This data provides detailed insight into how operations can be amplified and therefore enhance the overall bottom line.

Another key role IoT lighting plays in delivering an efficient smart building is its ability to reduce waste by improving accountability of resource consumption. Monitoring excessive or unnecessary light usage can aid facilities in being more sustainable, improve brand reputation and cut costs in the process.

I’d like to discuss the role IoT lighting plays in specific types of facilities. First, how do offices benefit from the technology?

Research shows that 80 percent of businesses believe that retaining and motivating staff is a major business challenge. Implementing IoT lighting has been shown to enhance employee satisfaction, morale and productivity, which ultimately positively impacts facility costs.

IoT lighting systems have been developed to help a range of office specific functions and operations; managers can use this technology to see where and how employees like to work, reveal where energy and space savings could occur and ultimately increase building efficiency to create a more sustainable and smart office.

IoT lighting also offers scene management within the office setting, where managers can set light schedules to deliver the right light at the right time. This, alongside the environmental monitoring feature where you can remotely monitor and manage office temperature, has shown that these features can really help to improve both employee comfort and performance.

In larger office facilities, IoT lighting systems can extend as far as providing indoor navigation features; where the lighting infrastructure, real-time indoor positioning data and smartphone apps are able to guide employees to where they want to go. Where’s the nearest free workspace or meeting room? What about the coffee machine? Hyper-accurate indoor navigation enables countless new applications to save employees time and improve their experience.

What about retail property?

Research has revealed that lighting can dramatically impact consumer behaviour, with 91 percent of Australian business owners believing IoT lighting would improve their customer’s experience. With advanced IoT lighting systems, retail businesses have the ability to create flexible retail spaces, trigger specific shopper behaviours through zoning and layers of light, as well as deliver location-based offers to shoppers on their smartphones. The research has also shown that consumers today care about retail businesses that act sustainably and many base their purchasing behaviour on this factor. Adopting IoT lighting is one step businesses can make to reduce their energy consumption, with our Interact Retail platform shown to reduce lighting-based energy consumption by 20 percent to 25 percent.

Are there any other types of facilities for which you’d like to highlight the benefits?

IoT lighting system capabilities stretch across multiple verticals – from industrial facilities, retail centres, hotels and hospitality environments, sports centres and stadiums, to complete city lighting infrastructures including major landmarks. There is an IoT lighting solution to transform all environments.

Take sports IoT lighting as an example: from pitch lighting to dynamic light shows, Signify’s Interact Sports is an exciting IoT lighting solution that allows you to transform the crowd experience. Interact Sports Scene management lets you use an app or dashboard to manage stadium light shows both in the bowl as well as the exterior architectural lighting. This gives stadiums the ability to flash team colours, celebrate a goal, and energise the crowd all in real time. Aside from the visual experience this technology produces, it also functions as a form of crowd control and safety. Using this system, you can control lighting to guide people better and avoid the queues or use the data collected from connected lighting grid to gain insights into people flows to better optimise facilities.

Beyond individual buildings, IoT lighting extends to encompass entire city geographies. Interact City is another solution that has the ability to create smarter and more liveable cities. Beyond general road, street, bridge and tunnel lighting management, integrated city lighting technology offers the ability to improve city services, help to improve public safety, beautify public spaces, engage with citizens and reduce energy costs. Interact City saves time and money through the ability to centrally commission and manage smart lighting for the city, block or even single lighting point. This means you can remotely adapt city lighting to the time of night, season or event.

Why are businesses and facilities so slow to adopt new technology?

One of the main reasons why businesses and facilities are slow to adopt new technology is because either they don’t have a solid understanding of how these technologies can improve operations both in the short and long term or they feel the technology is too difficult to be operated and used by the ‘everyday’ person. We’ve tried to change this perception by allowing users to manage, monitor and control lighting from user-friendly single dashboards and allow users to see how this technology is improving operations in real time.

Finally, how do you see the role of lighting evolving over the coming years?

Smart lighting integrated with IoT technology is becoming an industry standard. As this technology continues to be implemented across a wide variety of buildings and facilities, we will understand even greater insights that will create more dynamic and engaging environments.

We will see facilities able to make ongoing updates to their buildings that not only increase efficiencies but also improve the fundamental way we’re using space. With businesses becoming increasingly more focused on remaining profitable, becoming more sustainable and retaining staff, the benefits of smart lighting will become the expected norm, rather than the exception.


Image: Johannes Plenio via

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