The idea behind new technologies is that they make whatever they’re applied to progressively better. In the case of emergency, or fire/safety, lighting – as required in every commercial building – the “better” comes in the form of ensuring that life-safety measures will work when they’re supposed to work. That is, that paths of egress, with regard to lighting, are adequately illuminated for building occupants in case of an emergency, and that notifications work as expected when there is an event.
The connected building – one with infrastructure that networks and with applications used to “talk” to one another – not only increases the dependability of emergency lighting, it does so while minimizing the maintenance required to keep all lighting functions fully operational. Through a building’s connectivity, building owners and managers are also able to significantly streamline the process of performance testing and routine, follow-up reporting.
Life-safety luminaires – exit signs and other emergency-lighting products – require regularly scheduled testing, as mandated by national (National Fire Protection Association) and local codes. In earlier days before lighting was digital, that meant companies had to interrupt their business operations monthly and annually to allow direct access to their high-mounted luminaires. Each unit was tested, and each deficient unit was probed to identify and fix the specific problem causing it to fail. Along with these manual tests was the required reporting about testing, the results, and the corrective measures taken. It was all a costly and painstaking process.
Later, self-diagnostic lighting with integrated testing features made the process of ensuring the performance of emergency lighting much simpler. It remained, however, a visual and/or manual process involving data collection in the field or on the floor.
Now, thanks to the constant digital connectivity of the connected building and the feedback loop of analytics from the cloud, at-fixture testing and monitoring of emergency lighting is virtually eliminated. Instead, the architecture of the larger lighting network provides the means to monitor and communicate, via the cloud, the status of individual components of the emergency luminaires and any potential or real-time threat to their continued function. This allows building managers to pre-emptively address potential failures, whether they be in the lamp, LED driver, battery, etc. In addition, reporting features integrate seamlessly with local requirements to keep testing records in compliance with relevant laws.
Connected buildings also provide significant cost savings for fixture replacements and/or repairs by minimizing the number of necessary truck rolls. They do this by communicating to maintenance personnel, at the digital-lighting computer interface, the precise identity of each field component that’s not functioning properly. This means truck rolls are limited to the completion of replacements and repairs; return truck rolls are eliminated.
Such use of a digital lighting network – to bring much-needed convenience, ease and dependability to life-saving assets – underscores the power of the Internet of Things (IoT). In supporting this infrastructure and the communication it provides, the connected building itself proves to be a strategic asset to a business looking to mitigate risks and minimize exposure.
About the Author
Ash Vallampati leads product management and market solutions for Emergency Power products at Acuity Brands. He brings over 20 years of experience driving connected, IoT and enterprise software customer and market solutions for Acuity Brands, and other market leaders through previous leadership positions in web services, enterprise application integration, project management, and software development.