comfort, controls, 照明, lighting, science, stars of lighting design, tomorrowlight, visual, wellbeing

Fagerhult Lighting Academy at Intersect by Lexus

DUBAI. Fagerhult in association with APID has held an event at the city’s trendiest places, Intersect by Lexus. This unique event brought together architects, interior designers and lighting industry professionals to discuss the phenomena of light. Conversation was kindled by Henrik Clausen, the Director of Fagerhult Lighting Academy. Henrik spoke of the human aspect of light. “Light makes us recognise each other as living beings,” Clausen said. His talk called for deeper understanding of the effect of light in any environment on personal wellbeing. This visionary approach supported by the academic research in Denmark results in adoption of new standards by manufacturing and consulting community and novel methods of controlling light.

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controls, 照明, Data, IoT, lighting, urban

Street Lighting as a Network

 

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THE VERY IDEA OF A SMART CITY is amassing data from an urban multifaceted tissue and use it for the benefit of a community. Smart City is no longer a concept, it is a reality realised to varying degrees across the planet. A town on the foot of the Ural mountains might not have advanced building management systems, although its citizens would fully enjoy state of the art transportation app. Penetration of smart technologies interaction between a city dweller and a city manager has different depth and it is happening.

Advancement of telecommunication, internet and computing technologies and its symbiosis with manufacturing, services, logistics is driven in a greatest degree by a private sector. Vendors and providers better each other in giving consumer the most lucrative piece of tech, and communities get filled in with devices, solutions, apps and things that organise their lives, move them around and protect them.

There is another stream that moves in the opposite direction to this wave of technology in cities, a wave that has its aim to govern and unify the wild dance of private tech. There is no doubt, when these two streams meet, a pool of properly governed city technology shall emerge.

One of the steps of this sort is a British Standards company, BSI Group, report published in 2015 City Data Survey Report has defined main data sets, which over thirty cities that took part in the survey, found critical for functioning of a smart city.

There are fourteen data sets, of which the most important are social, infrastructure and energy. We shall focus on energy on this page, however today’s technology wipes off categorisation in managing a city, and energy alone appears to be too short sighted, as its impact on social and infrastructure or, say, geospatial development, is too significant.

Chart for Networked Lighting

Traditionally one of the largest contributors to a city energy spend is a street lighting. Number of lamps and their furniture is measured in thousands even in a small size community. You have your roads, your streets, your alleys and car parks. For decades architects and urban planners vocalised how good street lighting affects citizens’ wellbeing and feeling for security, and when light emitting diodes emerged, engineers have thought up of a new function for a city lighting. If each diode is a semiconductor then data transmission is possible. An aha moment that many a computer geeks experienced in early 80s: there are two computers and a modem. Machines can talk to each other!

There it started back in the second decade of the second millennium. Lighting seized being solely lighting anymore, it became a medium. Industry was disrupted, and all conversations today are about connectivity. Industry fairs look more like IT symposiums. Yet what is it for a city in connecting lights?

When a city manager steps out on the road to seek for an answer to this question, he or she would find not even a crossroad, but a noodle multilevel interchange of choices, standards, protocols and even consequences.

These are just a handful of services connected lighting can offer:

  1. Control and operational monitoring. Switching lights on and off, or conditional dimming (based on the time of day, natural illuminance or presence of dwellers) are prime functions in this category, but there is also a possibility to monitor power usage in real time and tracking status of the fixture.
  2. Asset management including almost all operating characteristics. Simply put, maintenance crew would be informed of the symptoms of potential failure before the luminaire fails.
  3. Metering. Apparently this feature is the least popular amongst some authorities. With all benefits of real time metering of energy use, there are still nay-sayers who doubt that this measurement is accurate. Advocates of the approach site that a luminaire that switches on when its built-in sensor detects daylight has reached a threshold and turns on the light source, consumes much less energy than the luminaire that is programmed to switch on at seven pm sharp. Communities that use LED lighting may also benefit from the special tariffs calculated for this type of light source as opposed to a conventional one.
  4. Security. Gunshot detection and triangulation. Acoustic sensors carried by the luminaire shall detect and signal law enforcement professionals exact location of an accident. Another basic feature is CCTV monitoring. There are fixtures already that incorporate a sleek camera that no longer spoils aesthetics of a fixture. Chemical and radiation detection is possible too.
  5. Footfall and traffic detection, a feature that urban management shall find useful, as well as retailers and property developers. One of the ways is to count…phones connected to a wireless network, although this data might not be fully accurate. We all know people who carry two phones on them.

Examples of connected lighting already exist. Majority are in the US (San Diego, Jacksonville and others). Glasgow boasts one of the most advanced systems in Europe. The city beats contenders by the fact that data from the networked lights are transmitted to their central operations centre.

When was the last time you had to plug in a cable to your laptop to go online? True, WiFi is everywhere. Although a city network goes beyond this. Market flourishes with choices: LoRa, Sigfox, LiFi and the fifth generation of mobile networks to name the few.

LiFi runs on light waves as opposed to radio waves used by WiFi and this makes the speed of data transmission incredibly fast. LED’s can be used as transmitters. LiFi has a lot of opponents as well as proponents and technology is developing very fast so that the results may be expected very soon.

5G is on the rise and telecoms are wiring their gears to spread the network in full steam.

LoRa today is considered one of the most secure, reliable and accessible formats for connecting Things into Internet. LoRa stands for Low Power Wide Area Network; it works on different frequencies of the free radio spectrum, which helps penetrate even in the underground locations.

PoE or Power over Ethernet is being explored by CISCO-Philips alliance. The European lighting leader has brought the way of energising and simultaneously controlling its lighting installation indoor. Ethernet today is capable of carrying 60W of power, which is enough for an office or a school yet still not there for an outdoor application.

Research and debates are underway which of this format prevails and communities should be included in the discussion: they will be the ones living with the chosen format of data and power transmission.

The point several degrees more important than the transmission is data. As with all on the internet: who shall own it? When you had your power grid, there was no options: energy authority would install, maintain and manage the assets. Today it is not so straight forward. What is of more value? Tangible furniture or data it gathers? The former depreciates over time, the latter gains value. The risk is that underfunded communities might agree to offers from providers and vendors to trade their citizens data in exchange of equipment. It takes a firm decision to ensure the data remains in the ownership of citizens and taxpayers, like it is done in Glasgow or Copenhagen.

This is not a search for the next villain, but an attempt to find possible ways and standards to govern, manage and utilise the gathered information. Judging by the functions street lighting can perform in a connected city, it is a lot of data. Public, as the main stakeholder, if not confident in the way data is operated, will unlikely approve civic initiatives and engage. Standardisation of data, communication technology and protocols may be able to facilitate the deployment and adoption of a smart city ideas.

If we get back to our multi talented street lighting concept: information, captured by sensors, flows into the central operation, but the media and formats are highly heterogeneous. There will be a need for this information to be normalised, occasionally translated, classified, stored, and eventually destroyed. Today vendors propose their own solutions to manage their piece of infrastructure. GE offers a platform it calls LightGrid, InteliLight has its own street light control software, Philips Lighting adds CityTouch, Acquity accompanies their lighting with various packages of their app called Roam.

I am only talking about lighting. Water will have their own, fire control will certainly use a software native to their equipment. All this is reminiscent of a boom of light planning applications in early 2000, when each manufacture developed their own stuff, and engineers and consultants would have to learn the intricacies of each package. Then Dialux and Relux came along and got everyone from misery. Thinking more widely: AutoCAD has become an ubiquitous standard for engineering community, and its evolution of Revvit that permitted an HVAC guy and a lighting guy work together in one environment independently from each other. “It is still not easy, says Murray Reynolds, CAD Manager of JWL, a large Australian contractor firm in Dubai, and it feels like you have just changed from a Cessna cockpit to Airbus 380.” Although the result is one engineering grid incorporating all vital systems. Similar approach from silos to homogeneous management of data is the future. Presently international standardisation bodies (CEN, CENEC, ETSI, ISO, IEC) are working on standards of interoperability, machine to machine communication, data security and protocols and even trying to unify terminology.

This foundation shall give confidence to city managers in the technical specification, processes and overall strategy of smart city services and equipment. As a consequence, standardised approach to processing and storing the data, shall become the very benefit for a community, that smart city is designed to achieve.

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alternative, dubai, energy, friends, renewable

On the use of the Sun

A question that gets asked a lot around here: why solar power is not that spread across the UAE. It seems logical to ask: the Sun is in abundance in the Middle East, and yet this country only plans to diversify its energy sources and get up to 24% of it from clean sources*. Our old friend, one of the brightest people we know and the Sun expert, Anthony Bassil, shed some light on the solar power. He also sketched the schemes for this post.

Solar energy harvested via photovoltaic panels can be classified into two main schemes: off- and on-grid. Off-grid, or stand alone system needs a large battery bank to store the collected energy, charge controllers and inverters to change from direct current to alternative current (AC/DC, and we are not on about ‘Rock or bust‘ here)

Off-grid system on paper

Off-grid system on paper

Such system is bulky, takes a fair bit of space and demands extreme safety measures. Standards require the place where batteries are stored to be properly ventilated. As battery emits hydrogen, every schoolboy knows, it behaves funny when it meets with oxygen (yes, b-o-o-m!) This makes the off-grid solar installation costs go up and lead to longer return on invenstment (ROI) period.

However the costs even for the off-grid system is now shrinking. A decade ago, a user would pay about ten USD per kW, and now — only around five. Yet, on-grid installation offers even higher savings (2.4 USD/kW) and estimated 3-5 years ROI.

An example of a grid-tie system

An example of a grid-tie system

Recent changes in the energy policies in Dubai, allowed investors to look at the on-grid solutions. It is a leaner installation that needs no batteries, and its core advantage is in the ability of a user to sell the unused energy back to the grid. Say, your warehouse consumes a smaller amount of energy during the night, and therefore gives unused electricity back to the network.

A growing number of clients are expressing interest in locating the panels on the roofs of their buildings, both new and retrofit. Why not? We have probably 350 days of uninterrupted sunlight each year. New regulations allowed investors to look differently at this renewable source of energy. Other sources are limited by the climate: moderate winds and waves along the UAE coast would not allow to harvest sufficient amounts of energy. Off-shore wind turbines are possible, but then again you need to transport energy from far away in the sea.

This country is looking forward the having so called solar farms.

Shams means Sun

Shams means Sun

Concentrated solar plants would allow to collect and transform to electricity enormous amounts of sunlight. Thus, Abu Dhabi based Shams 1 launched in 2013 is the largest solar thermal power plant in the Middle East. It is built to generate 100MW of energy. Unlike photovoltaic principle (energy is created due to chemical reaction), solar thermal stations heat water and then convert it to electricity.

Engineers in the Middle East are working on the challenge of dust. It too is in abundance in our desert land. Where a manual labour could be used to rid of the dust on a parking ticket machine, you’d need a more serious machinery on the farm.

We will continue to monitor the Sun power situation. The weather is good for both us, the users, and investors (heard of Google spending 300 M USD on it? The search-masters bough a share in the US SolarCity plant, 377MW).

* State of Energy Report in the UAE 2015

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Design Days Dubai, dubai, lighting

Light days. #DesignDaysDubai says: heads up!

DUBAI Design Days took place for the fourth time in the region. The event opens door to local talents as well as to world renowned galleries. It exposes equally an ambitious young genius and an iconic masterpiece. We have wandered around the event’s grounds, our heads up.

This year brought a fair number of objects emitting light and fixed to the ceiling. Some complained it was not high enough! Indeed, a twenty eight pendant transparent globes with — what seemed from the distance — as a low output light source. As one’s drawn closer full of curiosity: why those people are squatting under the installation, — it becomes apparent that each globe hosts something more than an LED. It is full of clouds, thunder and lightning!

DDD The Lumiere large

Thor is proud!

Commonplace Studio from the Netherlands brought to Dubai its Lumiere Cloud Installation. Jon Stam and Simon de Bakker have equipped sandblasted glass globes with miniature digital projectors that in sync show nature inspired videos. We clearly see those globes installed in a cloud hosting firm’s charismatic waiting room.

Aljoud Lootah, an Emirati industrial designer showed her collection of the Oru Series. Just a few pieces of furniture, tastefully accompanied by a table lamp, are interpretation of Japanese origami art. The lamp is a warmest of all. It has a soul of its own (and of course its creator, Aljoud!).

Wait, it screeches!

Wait, it screeches!

A European lighting powerhouse, Zumtobel, brought true masterpieces (and they call their collection just that!). A rare chance to see Hani Rashid, Olafur Eliasson and Zaha Hadid unique luminaires under one roof.

DDD Hani Rashid

LQ Chandelier by Hani Rashid

Acquaintance with Fadi Sarieddine’s Mainframe plug in modular concept started with a floating cube pierced with T8 fluorescent tubes. A cube, a center point of the concept, is used in so many ways, a user can breathe in it. Fadi is a Lebanese architect and designer practicing in the UAE. The Master has given us a tour around his creations himself: Sit, store, draw, read, charge!

DDD Fadi

By accident (or design?) — all three light fittings by Fadi Sarieddine got into frame

As usual, such fairs make one fall in love with an object. Then fall again, and yet again, and finally, exhausted visitor exhales ‘wow!’ and marches off to have a smoke or something to eat. Head spinning of a kaleidoscope of sensations, he or she classifieds memories and eventually sets aside something special. We enjoyed the luminaires shown at the stand of Carwan Gallery. Vincenzo de Cotiis’ rough forms exhibit raw power in a precious materials form. Suspended light fittings made by Hungarian atelier Position Collective radiate with a cosiness of practical realism reigning in Eastern Europe and Soviet Union of the sixties.

There was one piece that left us almost breathless. A fixture designed and made by a Japanese architect and designer Keiji Ashizawa for Broached Commissions. Lou Weis of this Melbourne based gallery shared with us some insights of Ashizawa’s East Eclipse.

Isn't it inspired by Kalder?

Isn’t it inspired by Kalder?

Fixture is made of two parts: a balance rod crowned by an LED board and an aluminium sheet that bends under its own weight. A thin wire holds the whole structure in the air with only one fixing point. Craftsmanship indeed! Eclipse tells a story of a trade between Australia and Japan: the former exporting its raw materials (mainly aluminium and metals), and the latter — bringing in sophisticated goods.

DDD Eclipse in making

Making the Eclipse

Keiji scales the fixture

Keiji scales the fixture

Dubai Design Days give another perspective to lighting. The fair’s eye for aesthetics sets a luminaire on a pedestal of art. Commodity it is no longer, vive la forme! We agree. Respect!

DDD is an annual arts and design fair held in Dubai each year since 2012. www.designdaysdubai.ae

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