In part 2 of our discussion with Jesse Foote, Senior Research Analyst for the market research firm Navigant Research, we talk about some challenges facing lighting control as well as the future of networked lighting. In part 1, we discussed the lighting industry and its intersections with the Internet of Things (IoT).
Wendy Toth: What are some of the concerns people have related to lighting control and the IoT or Industrial IoT (IIoT)?
Jesse Foote: Cyber security arises as an issue as more people become aware of the capabilities of network control systems. Privacy concerns in general are on people’s minds right now, with all the recent NSA revelations. The lighting controls industry will need to ensure that adequate protections are built into their systems from the outset, then make sure that people know that the lighting industry is addressing these issues. People need to believe that systems are secure, so that cyber security and privacy concerns don’t derail the broader adoption of lighting controls.
TOTH: Who has the responsibility of calming those security and privacy concerns?
FOOTE: I’m not sure there’s a good answer to that question, not yet. Certainly the vendors of lighting controls need to make sure that security is built into their systems. Whether vendors build it in themselves or team up with partners, and whether standards will be put in place, I hope so. But I think it’s still an open question.
Maybe another open question is how it gets communicated to the public, and who is responsible for that. Will vendors take the lead in making sure public concerns are addressed, or will it be the ones deploying lighting control systems — the big companies, cities, and municipalities — that really have to prove to their end customers and residents that the systems are not going to be abused?
TOTH: You mentioned cities. What are some of the demands and constraints that they have when it comes to networked lighting controls?
FOOTE: If we’re talking about cities, we’re talking primarily about street lighting. LED street lighting has been more widely deployed than control networks for street lighting.
Part of the reason is that control features add to the cost of lighting systems, and some cities are looking for the cheapest possible LED luminaires. It’s hard for them to justify adding things like dimming, which cost extra. But the cost difference is coming down, and it’s my understanding that more lighting manufacturers are including dimming capabilities into their luminaires.
Another challenge holding back the adoption of network controls by cities is the problem of outdated municipal codes. A big benefit of networked lighting control is the ability to dim and shut lights off when they’re not needed or when they don’t have to be at full brightness. But municipal codes haven’t really caught up with that concept, so you run into liability issues, or at least the concern about liability, if there’s a potential safety issue in not providing adequate light to streets. I think the safety issue can be addressed with smart lighting control systems, but the codes need to catch up so that city managers are comfortable adopting those systems.
TOTH: On a related topic, what’s happening with standards for lighting control?
FOOTE: The lack of relevant standards is another thing slowing adoption of lighting controls by cities. One big recent development was approval of the NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturing Association) socket standard, which allows a plug-and-play photocell to be put on top of an existing luminaire. This enables not only control over whether that light turns on and off, but also control of the dimming state. Dimming is a key feature of networked intelligent control in street lighting systems.
With the NEMA standard, even if a city doesn’t buy a control system right off the bat, it’s relatively easy to add those controls later. I think that’s a potential big benefit and boost to adoption of controls for street lighting over time.
TOTH: What about the question of whether cities should use wired or wireless connectivity for networked street lights?
FOOTE: For street lighting, the norm has been to use wireless in the U.S. and U.K. and wired in the rest of Europe and most of Asia. That’s largely because of the way substations are set up in the different geographical areas.
I think the developments Echelon has announced to control systems that can use both wired and wireless connectivity should help quite a bit. You can use whichever wired/wireless combination makes sense for an individual system, and you get the best of both.
TOTH: Do you have a vision for where you think networked lighting controls and the IoT are headed in the future?
FOOTE: There’s a growing expectation that you ought to be able to see the status of things on the Internet and be able to control them remotely. That ability is happening in more areas of our lives, so the thought is, why shouldn’t we be able to check whether lights are on, or turn them on and off remotely? On a personal level, why shouldn’t I be able to pull up an app on my phone and control the lights in my house? The growing expectation that this capability will extend to more and more devices will actually cause it, in part, to come true.
Another piece of the future will be open platforms, so that various parties can find creative new uses for the information collected by the lighting networks. It’s similar to how third-party app developers write software for smartphones. Open platforms that allow third-party software developers to come up with new uses for the information gathered by outdoor or indoor lighting networks will really expand the possible uses for that information.
IIoT Talks is a conversation between industry luminaries and Echelon Corporation about the opportunities of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) market. Echelon's Chief Marketing Officer, Wendy Toth, will share highlights of these conversations via the company blog. If you are interested in participating, please send an email to email@example.com.