Smart Solutions Using Network Lighting Infrastructures

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An intelligent network lighting control infrastructure helps business owners and staff know more about what is happening and where.

As businesses reopen and allow a higher capacity of visitors, both customers and occupants are looking for safe and comfortable experiences during this transition back to “normal.” This article will discuss how an intelligent network of individually addressable and sensor-rich luminaires in a networked lighting control system can provide the ideal infrastructure for reopening solutions to assist in keeping occupants and visitors healthy while also modernizing operations. Beyond just lighting up a room, intelligent luminaires with a network lighting system can enable smart solutions to monitor occupancy levels, control traffic flow, and encourage social distancing – providing safety reassurance and enhanced visitor experiences for all.

With COVID-19 still causing much uncertainty, businesses are looking for the most efficient and safe methods available to reopen their offices or public spaces. As the pandemic continues driving modern solutions to the forefront of everyday life, many companies are relying on digital technologies to assist in their reopening plans. While many businesses are tempted to return to tried and true methods, many systems are outdated and generally incompatible with our increasingly digital world. The future of network lighting control infrastructure provides convenience and flexibility for improving general building operations and experiences moving forward. 

Traditional lighting systems might be viewed as reliable and well established, but they have significant limitations in this generation. These wired systems are costly to install, inflexible and difficult to expand, and cannot keep up with the modern demands of commercial and retail spaces. Network lighting control systems built on Bluetooth mesh networks offer businesses the flexibility and scalability they need for reopening, reducing roadblocks and costs for business owners moving forward.

See also: Is Business Prepared for the End of the Pandemic?

What is connected lighting?

Network connected lighting uses a networked system of nodes, where commands, instructions, and data originate out of any point connected to the network and is then passed from light to light (node to node) to create the connected mesh coverage. This mesh network creates a fast and painless way to add intelligent luminaires across an entire building. Every single luminaire contains a cluster of sensors that feed data back to the network. Building managers can join their tablet or external device to the network and gain valuable information from each connected luminaire. While the luminaires of a system belong to a mesh network, an individual device does not need to be in range of all the other luminaires. A single luminaire can pass the signal to others to create a mesh network without needing to add any dedicated signal repeaters. Unlike Wi-Fi, where users will often need to extend coverage with additional hubs, the mesh system ensures every light receives a connection from the network no matter how far away it is.

With the benefits that networked lighting control infrastructure provide, lighting systems are a natural grid to include sensors for capacity monitoring, social distancing enforcement, and more. Reopening plans can become less of a pain point and more seamless for business owners while offering continuous benefits well into the future. The infrastructure will remain useful by providing additional business value and an enhanced experience for all.

See also: Redefining Smart Buildings: Focus on the People

The unexpected power of connected lighting infrastructures

Connected lighting systems extend benefits beyond the standard offerings, such as lower cost, design flexibility, future extensibility, and energy savings. While the traditional offerings might not initially sound applicable to reopening, network lighting and intelligent luminaires provide the infrastructure for businesses to monitor occupancy levels, control traffic flow with lit paths, encourage social distancing with metering lights, highlight handwashing stations and provide a welcoming atmosphere to help customers feel secure in returning to public spaces. Here is a breakdown explaining some of the best benefits:

  • Occupancy Monitoring – Connected lights can report how many people are in each room in real-time, so staff can properly manage crowds.
  • Controlling Traffic Flow – Visitor-flow monitoring solutions let staff visualize traffic flow and adapt to situations in real time. Reflecting on traffic trends will show building managers potential high-risk areas and let them plan for future congestion.
  • Social Distancing – Sensors in network connected lights enable proximity warnings so staff can step in to keep people appropriately distanced.
  • Hygiene Management Lights – Can highlight sanitary stations, making them easier for customers to find, while use-based tracking will let staff know when sanitary stations need cleaning or refilling (i.e., hand sanitizer dispensers).

Additionally, real-time data means companies never miss valuable and actionable information about the space and its occupants, so staff can quickly address changes as they arise rather than after the fact. Having a reliable array of sensors feeding information to any connected tablet will help businesses stay on top of reopening challenges by reducing guesswork and mitigating tricky situations with preparation.

Utilizing network lighting control infrastructures for future benefits

Beyond reopening, the features of network lighting control can also serve new purposes once these spaces are back to “normal.” For example, the infrastructure of network lighting control helps business owners and staff know more about what is happening and where. Occupancy monitoring can help staff know which areas are most trafficked and help target cleaning priority to the space more efficiently and help make final checks much faster at the end of the day. While these features are helpful for reopening, they will continue to provide business value well into the future.

In addition, the same way occupancy sensors in network lights encourage social distancing. They can transform into indicator lights to show if spaces like bathrooms and dressing rooms are occupied or indicate which check-out lane has the shortest line. Lights that once highlighted a hand sanitization station can promote a special coupon for customers or indicate where a customer can find staff to answer questions. Larger buildings can continue to use directional lighting features for lit paths, so people are less likely to get lost or confused and help customers navigate through a store more efficiently, mitigating overcrowding.

The pandemic pushed more people than ever towards technology, and businesses should avail themselves of fresh technology to reopen in a way that does not compromise safety nor break the bank. In 2021 there were 262,000 Bluetooth location services implementations. This is expected to increase to 550,000 by 2025, meaning twice as many businesses will be relying on technology to help them evolve in the aftermath of COVID. Utilizing the natural benefits of network-controlled lighting is one-way businesses can put technology to work without expensive intrusions while preparing for the future. 

Chuck Sabin

About Chuck Sabin

Chuck Sabin is responsible for Business Strategy and Planning at the Bluetooth SIG. In his role, Mr. Sabin is responsible for working with the Bluetooth Executive team, Board of Directors, and member companies to expose insight, trends, and projections to influence and drive the development of strategic business priorities for the Bluetooth SIG.  Mr. Sabin has been a proud member of the Bluetooth SIG team for seven years, and has an extensive background in marketing, product management, planning, and business development for enterprise servers, mobile operating systems, mobile devices, client software and services. 

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