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Lighting up their lives



Bill Bien

Modern society has a worrying tendency to take our most precious resources for granted. Water, fossil fuels, marine, plant and animal life, the environment as a whole. It’s not until we come close to losing such things that we truly appreciate their worth and the essential roles they play in our lives.

The same is true of light. In between the sun rising and setting, it illuminates a vast canvas in which we pursue our goals and interact with each other. But sometimes, because of geographical peculiarities, natural light is severely curtailed, restricting the way businesses can operate, children can play and society can function.


One such place is Uppsala, a beautiful city on the eastern coast of Sweden, a 40-minute train journey from Stockholm. However, it is so far north that, during winter months there is often less than six hours of sunlight each day. School children and commuters leave and return home in darkness, experiencing a deprivation of light that affects moods, motivation to work and physical health.

The same is true of light. In between the sun rising and
The same is true of light. In between the sun rising and

Philips is running the ‘Light up the Dark’ project using innovative connected lighting technology ina bid to transform a part of the city and the lives of its inhabitants. We are installing a state-of-the-art LED outdoor connected lighting management system in one of Uppsala’s most popular green spaces – Tegnérparken, also known as Giraffe Park and at the heart of the community. When the sunsets at 3pm, playtime is cut short and the children can’t easily enjoy what would normally be a safe outdoors area.

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Now, however, thanks to the Philips CityTouch LED street lighting system, we will be encouraging municipal engineers to remotely manage precise levels of lighting at the park according to the hour and how many people are there. In addition, because the LED bulbs are long-lasting and environmentally-friendly, local governments can, in principle, realize 70 percent energy savings and 70 percent on maintenance.


Most importantly, Philips CityTouch is an intuitive online remotely manageable innovation with measurable benefits. Parents will be sure their sons and daughters are playing in a well-lit environment bathed in an elegant rainbow of colours. Pedestrians, drivers and cyclists will feel more confident and it’s hoped the entire area will undergo regeneration because it will no longer be in darkness in the afternoon. And children will play and stay healthy – advancing their social, physical and cognitive development, away from the confines of their rooms and the powerful lure of computer and television screens.

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This is what meaningful innovation represents to Philips – as it has done for more than 120 years. Using technology to provide directly benefit people’s lives and collecting data to create a deeper understanding of our customers. Not simply innovating for innovation’s sake but asking first what the specific problem is and then solving it.

We collaborate – with government, community leaders, businesses and key stakeholders – to understand how our innovations can be both liberating for citizens and positively impact their environments.


Philips CityTouch is a result of such collaborative thinking and forms part of our IntelligentCity initiative, offering cities an end-to-end solution for a connected public lighting system. As more of us gravitate towards urban areas – by 2050 two thirds of the planet’s population will live in cities - this kind of public lighting will become even more integral to our safety and health.


We hope that Uppsala will become a beacon of this bold vision, an example of how a simple innovation can create enormous change for a small community. It’s an experiment that can be emulated across the world’s communities and very much defines what this project is all about. It’s a constantly evolving concept enabling innovation to tackle society’s challenges and allowing us to connect even more directly with individuals and attain a greater understanding of their desires, so our innovations can be even more effective.


Because, as a company, there’s one thing we never take for granted – our customers’ needs.

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Bill Bien  

Global Head of Strategy and Marketing Philips Lighting

Bill Bien joined Philips on January 1st, 2015 as Head of Strategy and Marketing for Philips Lighting. His focus is on driving the strategic direction of the business, building the brand and delivering a strong integrated marketing capability to underpin the company’s growth plans.


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