New light on the city of the future
Light is not only technology, but also communication and emotion.
Today, there are broadly two requirements to be met in lighting public spaces: on the one hand, functionality and security, and on the other, the promotion of the region and its artistic and cultural excellence. The increasingly close relationship between the environment, architecture and the potential offered by light has changed the essence of cities and how they are perceived. Light is increasingly centre-stage in the creation of new environments and urban landscapes, particularly in heavily-populated areas, where proper lighting becomes a factor that identifies and differentiates spaces.
Lighting designers can be seen as "directors" who choose how, where and why to light, with different solutions depending on the urban environment in which they operate.
They are increasingly integral to the project as a whole, and interact with architects, engineers and computer scientists. Indeed, in all the most important urban regeneration works, light plays a key role in the skilled hands of the lighting designer, who helps create spaces and new places that better meet citizens’ needs.
In Italy, this role is still not very well known, and we must therefore raise awareness among the Public Administration and the Contracting Authorities of the need to entrust upgrading works to skilled professionals with significant experience in lighting design.
Clearly, the development of LED was “revolutionary” or even “era-defining” in the world of lighting, and has prompted substantial changes in the way appliances and installations are designed and managed.
Today, many people associate LED mainly with energy saving, forgetting the other and perhaps more important characteristics of this technology, which enables, for example, the design of an efficient, dynamic, flexible and adaptable lighting solution according to a more global vision that is not only technological, but also “integrated” in the way it communicates and interacts with those who live the spaces and the surrounding architecture.
These works are boosted by the fact that this new technology has also prompted innovation in terms of design and form: devices that are increasingly custom-made to respond to a variety of needs, particularly in works to enhance architecture.
Of course, it is not enough to use devices equipped with LED technology to produce good lighting; good design is always necessary, and is fundamental for the choice of the most appropriate equipment for the environment and the success of an urban regeneration project.
Furthermore, we should not forget that the use of LED has important repercussions not only in terms of energy consumption, but also has a reduced environmental impact in other ways: thanks to their extremely long duration, bulbs do not need to be changed very often, and LED lighting also does not emit gases harmful to human health or contain toxic substances such as mercury.
Technological innovation now offers us a whole series of instruments and systems (sensors, devices, etc.) that will soon enable us to build and manage increasingly intelligent and sensitive cities. They are creating the first Smart Cities, an urban model that responds perfectly to the needs of its citizens and which also represents an important solution to problems such as smog and pollution in increasingly large and crowded metropolises.
The main objective in all this is to create better living conditions for citizens while wholly respecting the environment, and as a result, all the key players in this “fascinating” world of lighting must make a strong, collective commitment to creating that “adaptive” light that puts man’s needs centre-stage, with the concept of “human centric lighting” always considered when designing and building innovative lighting installations, equipment and systems.
In this environment, lighting installations become the first infrastructure of the development, and supply new services now considered indispensable: connectivity, remote control, mobility, etc. Smart city, Smart home, Smart building are all definitions that indicate models in which light is the main element in creating new services based on high-speed data transmission for the benefit of users, improving their quality of life and guaranteeing advanced connectivity and mobility services. In this way, for example, information can be obtained in real time on traffic and parking within a city, worker flows can be detected within work spaces, and much more besides.
These services are already a reality in some large cities, as are networks connected to the internet that give street lamps, car parks and dumpsters a “voice”. Big data, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT) are levers that enable traffic, waste, lighting, the environment, security and other services to be managed innovatively and more strategically. Actions aimed at making cities not only more efficient, but also “greener”, and more attentive to the well-being of their citizens, who are taking an increasingly active role in the digital revolution, because a city’s intelligence is also measured by its capacity to create a shared culture of innovation to which everyone can contribute.
Author: Gian Paolo Roscio, AIDI