LED Technology

Creating safer buildings with decentralised smart emergency lighting

Jeremy Ludyjan, senior director of strategic accounts and technologies for Fulham Lighting, manufacturer of energy-efficient lighting sub-systems and components for lighting manufacturers, discusses how to make buildings smarter, safer, lighter and brighter


uilding automation promises to make buildings smarter and safer. The challenge is finding the best

way to add connected intelligence, especially when retrofitting existing buildings. Increasingly, the industry is seeing the best approach as starting with smart emergency lighting systems. Emergency luminaires are already strategically located throughout the building, and they are already connected to building alarm systems. What if those same emergency lights were given more extensive automation and communications capabilities? Emergency lighting systems already are

an ongoing concern for facilities management teams. Safety regulations such as BS EN 50172:2004/ BS 5266- 8:2004 require emergency luminaires to be equipped with red/ green indicators to indicate system readiness, but the building maintenance crew still has to perform manual inspections, including testing the backup battery, and then log the results. If you install smart emergency luminaires

with built-in wireless communications you could eliminate manual inspection altogether. Luminaires could be connected and programmed to be controlled, and managed, from a central console, thus eliminating manual inspection. Once you have an infrastructure of connected, smart emergency luminaires you have the foundation for a building automation system that could redefine how we think about building safety.

Creating a wireless emergency ecosystem Installing smart emergency LED luminaires is the first step in creating an automated emergency response system. Luminaire makers are already taking advantage of the microprocessors used in LED drivers to add programmability to control lighting characteristics such as hue, brightness, and power consumption. By adding

46 May 2019

programmable sensors to the same drivers, you can create an extensible emergency response system with features such as: • The ability to test emergency

luminaires and other systems from anywhere at any time • Support for real-time emergency monitoring and operational alarms • Full integration with other security and emergency systems • Remote commissioning and

firmware updates • Data gathering for analytics, including measuring building occupancy and foot traffic With strategically placed sensors inside emergency LED luminaires you have ready- made infrastructure for building monitoring and control. However, in addition to luminaire intelligence you need connectivity. Physically connecting luminaires

together is certainly an option, especially with new construction. Luminaire vendors are developing more products that use Power over Ethernet (PoE, IEEE 802.3) to deliver both power and connectivity. However, retrofitting a building for PoE or using some other hard-wired solution would be cost-prohibitive. To support lighting connectivity and

control, more manufacturers are incorporating wireless connectivity in LED drivers. Special Interest Group (SIG) qualified Bluetooth mesh is rapidly being recognised as the ideal standard to create an intelligent lighting ecosystem. While Bluetooth has been around for device-to-device communications for some time, Bluetooth mesh uses a grid network to broadcast data, creating redundant links each node acts as a repeater supporting two-way communications. You can add and remove devices at will. Bluetooth mesh also is a well- defined, open standard so device compatibility is assured.

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Using emergency luminaires with embedded Bluetooth mesh capability makes it simple to create a building-wide network to manage emergency lighting as well as other building systems.

Automating emergency response Once the infrastructure is in place, the sensors integrated into the LED drivers can be programmed to respond to various building conditions. For example, they can be set to detect fire, smoke, or carbon monoxide. They also can be programmed to trigger the appropriate response, such as activating emergency lights, sounding an alarm, or contacting emergency services. Automating emergency monitoring infrastructure enables proactive as well as reactive responses, especially when you add in machine learning. For example, in addition to sounding an alarm, localised emergency sensors can locate the source of the danger and automatically lock or open fire doors and light a path to safety. The same sensors can even be used to detect room occupancy, showing if the danger zone is clear or sending the location of trapped occupants to first responders. One of the advantages of Bluetooth

mesh is data can be accessed by any Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Data even can be sent over the Internet for remote access.

The next step: Building automation Once you have programmable sensors in place connected over a wireless network, you have the foundation to control a variety of building systems. For example, using Bluetooth

tagging you can track the location of vital equipment anywhere in the building – an ideal application for

hospitals and medical clinics. You also can use Bluetooth tagging for building security. For example, badges with embedded Bluetooth tags can grant or deny access to sections of the building. You also can give visitors badges equipped with Bluetooth tags to control building access and even provide directions using Bluetooth beacons for wayfinding, including mapping software on your smartphone. In fact, Bluetooth mesh can handle

different types of data traffic so it is the ideal skeleton for building automation using the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT

connectivity can serve as the common underlying communications network to support different types of control data over the same wireless network including support for two-way communications via the internet. Intelligent LED emergency luminaires

may be the foundation for building automation in the near future. For now, smart, connected emergency lighting promises to provide the means to make buildings safer as well as smarter by automating emergency systems and supporting centralised access and control.

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