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By 26 June 2017 | Categories: feature articles

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Lighting is apparently not nearly as simple as is quickly assumed. Rather, Reggie Nxumalo, the general manager of Philips Lighting Southern Africa, kicked off the company’s first year anniversary event, held in Woodmead, by stressing that lighting can plays a more significant role in society than just chasing away darkness.

He explained that beyond energy efficient lighting such as LEDs, valuable as that is, Philips is also providing connected lighting. With this, he elaborated, light levels can be remotely managed by an app, allowing a fine tuning of how much brightness is emitted during particular times of the day. This could be enhanced by using more energy efficient lighting that is more carefully positioned for optimal usage.

Nxumalo noted that such usage would particularly have application in smart cities and help reduce a lot of the light and electricity wastage that occurs from lights being left on needlessly. Furthermore, better management of lighting could also account for significant savings, particularly as it accounts for 20% of all electrification. Nxumalo pointed out that when the subject of smart cities arise, often the assumption is that any initiatives need cost millions if not billions of rands, which is not necessarily the case, at least as far as leveraging lighting is concerned.

Let there be (more) light

He continued that along with the opportunity for better management of lighting, so too is there a growing need for illumination, in Africa as well as other parts of the world. This is exacerbated by the fact that the world’s population is ever expanding g (by 81 million people a year), even as there are still some 1.1 billion people worldwide who don’t have access to  electricity and live in “light poverty”.

And yet, that is not the only factor that is pushing the need for more attention to be focused on lighting to the fore. So too is urbanisation, with more people moving from rural areas to cities and requiring the right amount of lighting to do their job..

Illuminating the impact

Nxumalo pointed out that while lighting is all too often taken for granted as a technology, it has an array of impacts, on the mood of an area, the wellbeing of a city, and when used wisely, on the health of animals, people, as well as the environment.

Speaking to the former, he elaborated studies have shown that certain types of birds fare better under warmer or colder (red or blue) light, while bright light being shone indiscriminately at night has a deleterious impact on the natural cycles of nocturnal birds. In a similar fashion, too much light shining into a person’s bedroom at night can upset their circadian rhythms , and have a profound effect on their sleep cycles.

Even as too much light can be disruptive, the right amount of lighting can also be a matter of life and death. Nxumalo explained that at an accident scene, the colour of the lighting on hand determines whether paramedics are able to assess at a glance whether liquid on the ground is blood or oil.

Resolution and resolve

Speaking to the environmental impact of lighting, Nxumalo reassured that the company takes eco-awareness very seriously, and is committed to ensuring that 80% of its products are recyclable by 2020. “Even though it is much easier if environmental measures are coordinated by an industry body, we are not going to wait for others to take action,” he stressed.   

Finally, Nxumalo added that using lighting in the right way can actually boost a country’s economy, by helping increasing tourism to certain areas,enlivening them and engendering safety. With all this said, it became more apparent that lighting is a critical technology moving forward. 

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