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Connected lighting for smart and livable cities



Harry Verhaar

A century ago, less than 10% of the world’s population lived in cities. By the start of the 21st century, this figure had risen to over 50%, and by 2050 over two thirds of us will be living in cities.


At the same time, we are witnessing unprecedented urbanization and the rapid expansion of the middle class in emerging economies. This has heightened concerns about the secure, reliable supply of affordable energy, environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and loss of biodiversity, and shortages of materials, food and water. As a result, resource efficiency is fast 

moving up the agendas of both the private and public sectors. Corporations and governments alike are having to develop strategies for a world in which natural resources and energy are becoming increasingly scarce and expensive.


Lighting up the pathway to a sustainable future


We already have many solutions that can enable smart and clean energy use, close the materials loop, prevent environmental damage, and so help build a sustainable future. For example, in the field of lighting – which accounts for a massive 19% of global electricity consumption – we have reached a tipping point in the development of LED lighting. This technology can now be used for high-quality general lighting in almost all applications. A switch to LED lighting will offer huge savings in energy use and maintenance costs, especially when combined with intelligent lighting control systems, while at the same time enhancing people’s feeling of safety, security and comfort in public spaces, inside buildings and at home.


Connected lighting


Philips, the global leader in lighting, is committed to providing connected people-focused solutions that help build truly livable cities.


As lighting goes digital, we are incorporating our innovative LED light sources, luminaires, smart lighting controls and software in fully integrated, connected solutions for cities. Connected lighting provides the right amount of light precisely where it is needed and when it is needed. This enables municipal authorities to save energy and maintenance costs and to reduce obtrusive light, while making urban spaces safer and more attractive, thus strengthening city branding. Instead of continuously replacing lamps and components, product delivery will increasingly be directed towards software and controllability, thereby adding new value through improved lighting services.


Energy efficiency


Today, cities consume over 70% of the world’s energy supply, a figure that will only increase over time. Going forward, how will these cities manage to meet the growing demand for energy while keeping costs under control?


Lighting accounts for 19% of the world’s electricity consumption, with some 60% of this used by commercial and public buildings in cities, and around 15% by street lighting. Significant savings are possible – on average 40% – simply by switching to energy-efficient lighting technologies such as LED. On a global level the potential savings amount to €128 billion in reduced electricity cost and 670 million tonnes of CO2, or the equivalent of 642 power plants. Philips is driving the lighting industry’s transition toward energy-efficient lighting, and we aim to improve the energy efficiency of all the products we bring to market by 50% in the period 2010-2015.

conencted lighting

Innovating future-proof solutions


Together with a range of strategic partners from both the public and private sector, we are constantly working on innovative, integrated lighting solutions to help build intelligently connected cities. Our CityTouch online outdoor lighting management system is a case in point.


With steeply rising urban populations, it is clear that static, passive streetlights simply can’t keep pace with the lives we lead. Livable cities require lighting that can adjust to the ebb and flow of traffic and urban activity. CityTouch enables dynamic, intelligent and flexible control of lighting city-wide. Combined with LED-based fixtures, it can save up to 70% on energy and maintenance costs compared to conventional lighting.


CityTouch allows users to manage all the lighting systems for an entire city from a single, intuitive online user interface. It provides easy, streamlined maintenance and oversight, with real-time status reports for each individual light point. Moreover, by making it possible to dim light points outside of peak hours, detect failures and provide smart lighting workflow support, the system significantly reduces operating costs and energy usage – leading to lower energy bills, lower carbon emissions and less light pollution.


CityTouch also protects the city’s infrastructure investment by adjusting seamlessly to new technologies and evolving needs. As they expand, cities using CityTouch can simply add new streets to the existing network. New lighting functionalities can also be easily incorporated. Also, CityTouch is the first control platform that isn’t bound to one hardware type or provider. This means that users have flexibility in choosing the products that best suit their city’s requirements and budget – secure in the knowledge that their light points will work seamlessly with the CityTouch system.


A great example is being implemented by the government of the city of Buenos Aires that is renewing its street lighting system with LED technology. Philips is in the midst of replacing the majority of the 125,000 existing street lights with new LED luminaires within a 3-year term. Philips’ LED-based connected lighting will enable energy savings of over 50% for the city, a significant reduction in CO2 emissions every year, and offers a lifetime that is five times longer than conventional lighting. This will significantly reduce the environmental impact of the lighting system and reduce maintenance costs for the city of Buenos Aires.

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Inspiring environments


In addition to their capacity to slash energy bills and avoid greenhouse gas emissions, our integrated and connected LED-based lighting solutions offer exceptional freedom in terms of controlled lighting effect – color, dynamics – and design. This capability is driving a shift from ‘quantitative’ functional lighting towards ‘qualitative’ intelligent and emotive lighting that transforms urban environments, offering city residents and visitors’ safety and spectacle, uplifting and inspiring experiences.


White light for safer streets


To hold on to both their private and corporate citizens, cities must provide safer streets for both motorists and pedestrians. Lighting can make a decisive contribution in this regard. For example, at the same light level, more than 80% of people feel safer with bright white light than with traditional street-lighting solutions. The closest approximation to actual sunlight, white light is considered to be more authentic and comfortable: its high levels of perceived brightness and superior color rendering help people feel safer and make it easier to distinguish objects, colors, shapes and other details.


Effective City image building


Quite simply, high-quality intelligent lighting helps make a city safer and more attractive, enhancing its brand identity – the distinctive signature that defines its appeal and differentiates it from other cities. This is important not only for civic pride, but also to attract new residents, new businesses and inward investment that boost retailing, tourism and other boons to economic growth and employment.

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Need to act … and act fast!


The intelligently connected, energy-efficient lighting solutions we need for a sustainable future are here today – the one thing we can't afford is to delay their implementation. The current rate of renovation of existing infrastructure based on outdated, inefficient technology is simply too slow. We urge governments worldwide to act – by creating policy frameworks (governing, for instance, public procurement, Total Cost of Ownership, and fiscal incentives) that stimulate clean, smart innovation, and adopting more ambitious energy and resource efficiency performance standards. At the same time, they can lead by example by making their own public buildings, schools and streets smart and energy-efficient.


Such top-down change must be complemented by a bottom-up, sectoral approach, in which the business community and public stakeholders join forces in new public-private partnerships to accelerate the market penetration of innovative new technologies, products and services.


Looking forward


There are indeed many significant challenges to be overcome, yet the prospect of safe, vibrant, eco-friendly cities is no illusion. We can achieve this. With a forward-looking agenda and a commitment to partnering with other change agents in both the private and public sectors, we at Philips are resolved to play our part – by continuing to deliver the intelligent lighting solutions that will help create the sustainable livable cities of the future. 

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Harry Verhaar  

Head of Global Public & Government Affairs, Philips Lighting

Harry Verhaar has over 20 years of experience in the lighting industry, and is Head of Global Public & Government Affairs for Philips Lighting.He is responsible for the strategy, outreach and stakeholder management on energy & climate change, resource efficiency and sustainable development, with a key focus on the role of the LED lighting revolution.


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