Connected lighting: common-sense solution for the smart workplace


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As the design and use of the modern office environment evolves, most traditional systems are failing to keep up with adaptive and creative new concepts. The noticeable shift from a more formal office setting to flexible and activity-based workplaces, in which users should easily interact with their building and its offerings, adds pressure on proprietary building systems. The established building does not have the ability to respond to the users’ needs, but instead causes inhibiting factors and noticeable losses in time and efficiency.

According to CBRE’s 2018 Americas Occupier Survey, the trending challenges facing decision makers are continually seeking to improve their space utilization (48%), employee productivity (44%), talent attraction and retention (43%) and operating expense savings (37%).

The conceptual buildings of tomorrow, with limitless customizable IoT applications and automations, are no longer unobtainable. The buildings of today can too be user centric, allow for immediate flexibility and have future-proof digitization concepts and systems installed. This is best achieved by a multi-functional smart building solution, acting as the building’s central nervous system; one that collects data for user-friendly applications, reduces the building’s carbon footprint and delivers cost savings all at the same time. The solution, connected lighting.

Light and IT: two birds, one stone

Lighting infrastructure is a requirement for all used spaces, and now the technology exists to use this infrastructure for more than just the illumination of a room. Sensors have long been integrated into lighting systems, so why not expand the functionality of said sensors? As JLL reports, the wellbeing and productivity of building users is mainly influenced by better lighting (+23%), improved ventilation (+11%) and individual temperature control (3%). To combine all three of these well-being metrics into one system makes perfect sense. Sensors tracking occupancy, brightness, and temperature can provide the metrics to control not only the light, but also regulate ventilation and temperature, and do so extremely efficiently. Meanwhile, there is no longer a need for traditional branch circuity and complicated topologies in the ceiling for standard lighting. What we propose: use a low-voltage, network powered lighting system for improved well-being, higher efficiency and long-term savings. Basic principle suggests that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated; therefore, simplicity should be a key goal in design, and unnecessary complexity should be avoided. The necessities for achieving such a design: centralization of active components and control; elimination of complex topographies; a passive, fine-mesh sensor network; and easy-to-use software and connectivity. One simple, reliable system: many positive outcomes.

Nucleus of Data for all connected systems in your building

Adding sensors for autonomous control of the workplace can take effort and worry away from the users, while also drastically improving the energy. This is best done for environmental factors, such as light, HVAC and/or window shutters. With tried-and-true building automation technology and simple but effective UI Apps, today’s working spaces can allow for a flexible, friendly and productive work environment.

But multiple smart systems don’t make a building smart, unless they are open and working together. If trusted secure networking technology is used, we see a future where bus systems are a thing of the past. The same nucleus sending the data to control the lighting and HVAC can also send data to software applications producing live-occupancy floor plans, historical utilization analysis and asset tracking. A connected lighting system which can collect and export sensor data, via an open protocol, can lead to improved facility efficiency and workplace experience of users.

To save time and energy of the user, Apps for indoor navigation and meeting room booking must have a friendly UI, integrate into commonly used and well-known systems (i.e. Google Mail, Outlook, iOS, Android, etc.) and report in real-time. Keep it simple: transparency and ease of use are required to avoid the risk of user rejection.

Understand and Enhance: building intelligence via sensor network

The same systems in modern workplaces that allow for improved user experience should also provide data to decision makers. With the common objective to optimize their assets, key performance indicators and utilization data measurements can be used to fulfil their strategy and goals. Space utilization metrics, collected over a designated period of time via the connected lighting’s sensor network, allows for the production of heat maps, which in combination with other analytical tools help real estate managers with decisions to maintain, increase, or re-assign their square footage.

The connected lighting system and its sensors can provide the most efficient lighting based on settings and policies. When the sensor network can measure occupancy and temperature in real time too, there are opportunities to influence HVAC to its most efficient state. With heating, air conditioning, ventilation and lighting consuming over half of energy usage in an office, there can be immense reductions when measuring and controlling in real-time according to the need of the users.

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About smartengine

smartengine is a revolutionary technology developed by wtec in the United States and Germany, The technology is installed in more than 15 million sq. ft. of commercial spaces world-wide, in offices at blue chip companies, government offices, schools and universities, retail stores and data centers. It provides the base for a smart building infrastructure, using a fine-mesh sensor network for real-time data and control. smartengine uses Safety Extra Low Voltage over standard IT network infrastructure to transmit power and data. It also drives LED fixtures in the most efficient way possible, even enabling Human Centric smart Lighting. smartengine makes traditional building systems a thing of the past and is a perfect player in an open, secure, connected building.