Internet of Lighting within the Workplace
The workplace is constantly growing and adapting to meet market trends and employee needs, including flexibility when it comes to being in an office. According to the United States Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), in 2017 approximately 8 million people or 5.2% of the U.S. workforce worked remotely. This trend has been on a steady incline over the past decade. With the places where a business’s employees work changing from the office to homes and coffee shops, you would expect that most workplaces would operate differently to accommodate those changes, but that is not always the case.
Often office buildings the U.S. still have basic lighting systems that operate the same despite fewer and fewer people working in the actual office. While logically fewer people in the office would result in lower energy costs, it actually results in no reduction of energy costs as the lighting is typically operating as it normally would, which sounds like an exorbitant amount waste when it comes to both energy and money. How can offices be smarter and save energy, given the remote worker trend?
The Internet of Lighting (IOL) is a play on the common buzzword Internet of Things (IOT) where the “thing” in this case is lighting. The Internet of Lighting is simply and not so simply a lighting system that is connected to the buildings’ IT infrastructure in which the nodes of the lighting system are controlled by the internet. Being controlled this way can mean lighting can be controlled locally or remotely on a device such as a phone or computer. In addition to being able to remotely control certain components of the lighting system, the lighting system can also collect data. The data is the most crucial part of an IOL system, more so than the ability to control it remotely. The reason why this data is so crucial is the company, office, or building manager is now able to see how the lighting is used throughout the building currently and can pinpoint areas where more light is needed or areas where little to no light is needed.
In a hypothetical case, say a company expanded their work from home policy two years ago but it was never sure when or if particular employees will be at the office and using the lights, or at home, making lighting in their work spaces unnecessary. With the help of an IOL system they can pinpoint that very data and make the adjustments accordingly. Now someone with any hint of lighting knowledge will say “Why don’t you just install occupancy sensors?” and that is a fair point, but a properly designed IOL system incorporates lighting controls such as dimmers or occupancy sensors. With this ability to control and collect data on the lighting usage of the building(s), a building’s facility manager is better prepared to adjust the building’s system to fit the exact needs of that building, they will be able to see trends such as the ones caused by working remotely, and they will be informed when it comes time for an update to their current light system.
Leveraging data to improve your company and your business is discussed a lot, but usually as a means to improve revenue flow. Implementing an IOL system won’t increase a company’s revenues, but it can reduce costs, which, to many people, is just as important. Improve your company by improving how it manages its energy expenditures!