Philips' Van Duinen says LED lighting will be connected to the Internet of things (Updated)

Sept. 11, 2012
The keynote speaker at the Street & Area Lighting Conference in Miami discussed the vital importance of SSL relative to the global energy crisis, and predicted that smart lighting will ultimately be connected in ubiquitous networks.

Niels Van Duinen, global marketing director at Philips Lighting led off the Street & Area Lighting Conference on September 10 with a forward look at LED lighting and how smart-city projects will ultimately connect lighting on Internet Protocol (IP) networks. Van Duinen sees connected solid-state lighting (SSL) as a necessity given the growing energy concerns around the globe.

Van Duinen began with some astounding numbers saying that by 2050 close to 7 billion people, about the number on the planet today, will live in cities. He said that in developing countries, cities will expand to accommodate an additional one million residents every five days. And energy consumption will of course escalate. Van Duinen projected a 40% increase in energy consumption by 2030.

Saving energy in outdoor lighting is clearly important. Van Duinen said that LED-based lighting can offer 50-70% energy savings, but added "it's not enough to meet global sustainability targets." Adaptive controls can bring the savings to 80%, according to Van Duinen.

25 million lights

There are 25 million street lights in the US, and those lights account for 40% of cities' electricity usage, according to Van Duinen. Those lights are equivalent to 2.6 million cars in terms of carbon emissions.

Van Duinen said that after a decade focusing on LED lighting for energy savings that it's time to go to the next phase. Moreover, he noted that lighting won't have to break new ground to adapt IP network technology. As an example, he cited radio frequency identification (RFID) tags used to track things such as retail items or pallets of merchandise. He said there will be 4 billion RFID tags added in 2012. He went on to mention that mobile wireless service providers are adding Internet connectivity to devices (things) other than phones at twice the rate that they are for phones.

For municipalities that want to adapt smart-city technology, the answer is a unified network, according to Van Duinen. Cities are already connecting traffic signals and other assets. A unified network that includes street lights could both maximize energy saving and add other benefits.

Van Duinen cited an example of how a connected city could improve emergency response. He said cameras could detect and capture the occurrence of an auto accident and immediately alert responders. The network would control traffic signals ensuring that the responders have a clear path to the accident. And the network could command street lights to full output for best visibility.