A sky full of stars
Do you see a sky full of stars when you look up at night? Count yourself lucky. Not even 100 years ago, people all over the world could see a spectacular sight: a starry night sky. But due to the ubiquitous use of artificial lighting, the beautiful Milky Way is no longer visible for most of us.
It is not only the disappearance of the stars that is worrying. Light pollution can have a far-reaching influence on humans and wildlife alike, affecting our health and showing a serious impact on our climate. Artificial lights dispel the darkness of the night and bathe our cities in light. As such, they disrupt the natural balance of day and night and sleeping quality.
A famous example of light pollution is the 1994 power outage in Los Angeles. Due to an earthquake, the city lost all electricity. Emergency centers started to get reports of a mysterious cloud above the city.
It turned out that there was no aliens invasion, but because of the darkness people could suddenly see the Milky Way again. Having been hidden by light pollution for decades, the sight was a remarkable experience for a lot of people.
Curious how your region is scoring in light pollution? You can check this interactive world map of light pollution https://blue-marble.de/nightlights/2012 or this one: https://cires.colorado.edu/artificial-sky
What is light pollution?
The International Dark-Sky Association describes light pollution as “the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light.” This includes glare, or excessive brightness; sky glow, which drowns out the night sky over urban areas; light trespass, or stray light falling where it is not needed; and clutter.
Using artificial light sensibly
As humans, we don’t want to live without artificial light again. And that is also not needed. but surely we can do something to avoid needless waste?
What if we could keep the light, but use it sensibly?
Starting as a side effect of the industrial revolution, light pollution sources include lighting in and outside of buildings, advertising, streetlights, and other illuminated places.
A remarkable fact is that a lot of this light is simply wasted. Instead of focussing some light on the areas that need it, a lot of light is simply lost in space. This is due to overly bright lights, improperly shielded lights, unnecessary illumination, and often a disinterested attitude towards the effects of light pollution.
Mysterious space activity
Why not reduce the use of LEDs that emit wavelengths affecting animals and humans and bounce around in the atmosphere needlessly? They can be replaced by LEDs with more favorable optical and electrical properties.
Ways to reduce light pollution
To counter wasted light, we could build systems that only illuminate areas when it is needed. We could use dimmers, motion sensors, and timers on outdoor lighting. We could choose lighting fixtures that shield the light to minimize unwanted glare and waste.
Simple interventions to fight light pollution
- Use lower color temperature LEDs. (light under 2200 Kelvin emits fewer blue wavelengths).
- Use dimmers, motion sensors, or timers on indoor and outdoor lighting to get the light under control.
- Use properly designed optical solutions in lighting fixtures that shield the light source and make sure that they illuminate only the intended area.
- Turn off unnecessary indoor lighting at night.
With technological innovations, and IOT getting used everywhere, there are certainly good answers to all of these requirements The specific term we use in the signage industry of IOT application is ”Smart Signage”
Using Smart Signage to reduce light pollution
A well-known benefit of Digital Signage is that you can quickly change the content on your screens. However, what is Smart Signage instead?
Intelligent control of light
Aided by a remote content management control system, a smart signage system allows you to change your content on any or all of your screens with a push of the button. No need to visit every digital sign to upload new content. Not only do you win a lot of time, but you also get access to some functions that can help fight light pollution.
Smart signage systems allow users to schedule content for particular times of the day. Not only could e.g. a restaurant use that to show breakfast options in the morning, and lunch in the afternoon.
The scheduling function could ensure that messages are visible only when needed. There is no use to blast away lumens in the deepest of the night when only a lost night owl comes along. So why not turn off the lightbox, or dim the lights when most people have gone to bed? It saves energy and money and it’s an easy way to stop light pollution.
Bringing flexibility to signage
With smart signage solutions, it is possible to work In a very flexible way.
Intelligent energy management makes the Smart Signage system an economic and ecological solution. It manages the light output of your LED installations based on pre-built scenarios and ambient conditions.
Saving energy, budget, and the environment
This smart use of energy does not only bring great benefit to your company, but also the environment. The total energy consumption can be lowered significantly, the overall lifetime of the hardware is vastly prolonged. Less service and maintenance would be required, and even when needed, more effective planning could save tremendous costs and time.
Let us join forces
With the impact of energy consumption, carbon footprint, ecological driven economy, as well as Covid, we all understand that the world has to become smarter. How can each of us in the signage and visual communication community pro-actively participate, contribute and combine our efforts, as responsible social citizens? This is a very big question which might lead to live or die kind of questions for the future of our business.
Vivalyte welcomes anyone interested, to participate in the dialogue with our team or colleagues in the industry, or any stakeholders, and let’s move forward on this together.