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Why security practitioners should care about intelligent LED lighting

Why security practitioners should care about intelligent LED lighting

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Photo credit: (Photograph by Ian McSpadden)

As published in the March 2017 issue of Security Dealer & Integrator magazine

The West Baden Springs Hotel in Indiana recently undertook a lighting project in its atrium that replaced 150 1000-watt bulbs—which consumed 150,000 watts per hour—with PoE powered lighting that consumed less than 4,000 watts per hour while providing more light. Every light is connected to an Ethernet switch, and the full-color LED chandelier lighting, and lighting at the base of the ceiling, have programmed color “playlists” that provide color tones to match events of all types.

What’s the Big Deal about LED Lighting?

New intelligent LED lighting is a big deal for facility security for these reasons:

  • Up to 98% reduction in lighting electrical energy costs
  • LED lighting projects can help fund security system initiatives
  • Occupancy intelligent LED lighting fixture sensors improve security and safety response
  • Intelligent LED lighting control capabilities provide valuable new security capabilities

Electrical Energy Savings

A 98% reduction in lighting energy savings is not usual, and I’ve been told  that a 60% to 80% reduction is more typical. However, the West Baden Springs Hotel in Indiana, is a very special case of energy savings. Their Atrium lighting project replaced 150 1000-Watt bulbs—which consumed 150,000 Watts per hour—with PoE powered lighting that consumes less than 4,000 Watts per hour while providing more light. Every light is connected to an Ethernet switch, and the full-color LED chandelier lighting has programmed color “playlists” that provide color tones to match events of all types. The Atrium is shown in this article’s photo image above.

Platformatics is the Bloomington, Indiana based tech company who is providing the LED lighting for the projects. Founded by several experienced Silicon Valley innovators, their mission is to transform commercial lighting through innovative hardware and software applications that improve productivity and comfort, beautify environments, and conserve energy for building owners, operators, and tenants.

New Security Capabilities

The transformation to intelligent LED lighting, whose lighting fixtures can include light level sensors, occupancy sensors, air quality sensors, smoke detection sensors and so on, brings quite a list of safety and security related capabilities to the table. The term “Human-Friendly Buildings” is being used to describe the goal for intelligent buildings, and security plays an integral part in that vision. For example, when occupancy sensors show that someone is working alone in an isolated section of a building, a security officer can perform a friendly foot patrol visit and let the occupant know that security is actively patrolling the building. This is a human-friendly element of making workplaces safe and secure.

For example, ceiling lighting color can be set to red for evacuation, yellow for shelter in place, and green for all-clear, on a room-by-room basis. Hallway lighting fixtures can change the lighting color in sequence to indicate evacuation direction. Hall lighting in front of an unsafe room entrances can in flash red as a warning not to open the door. Building evacuation progress can be tracked in real-time using ceiling-based occupancy sensors. These are a few of the many security operational benefits.

Defining the Right Project

Intelligent lighting projects have a very high return on investment, and this ROI can be used to find safety and security system improvements implemented via the network that intelligent ceiling lighting establishes. Digital signage, room by room two-way audio, low-cost ceiling-based hallway video are all feasible safety and security improvements when incorporated into an intelligent LED ceiling lighting initiative. Any significant intelligent LED lighting project should incorporate additional facility safety and security improvements—after all, the ultimate objective is a safe and productive workplace. It is critical to get involved in such projects early so that as security technology advances, there is a pre-defined place for it in the lighting initiative.

Getting Ahead of the Game

Intelligent LED lighting is an emerging technology, and the physical security industry is just beginning to think about how to take advantage of the potential security operations benefits. However, security technology is advancing much more quickly than it has in the past, and several companies are already designing and implementing security system integrations for lighting and other intelligent building systems.

For security practitioners, that means now is the time to start the conversations with IT, Facilities or Real Estate departments about exploring the opportunities based upon the intelligent lighting technologies that are now appearing.

Watch a 2-minute video about Human Friendly buildings and the Digital Ceiling initiative that includes intelligent LED ceiling lighting.