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General Lighting Future of technology Internet of Things LED

LED Gunshot Monitoring: Protecting Neighborhoods One Light at a Time

In a previous blog, I discussed the effect of nighttime lighting on urban crime rates. Studies have shown that, despite many people’s expectations, lighting levels do not necessarily affect an area’s safety or the amount of crime. They do, however, affect our perception of safety; most people feel safer in well-lit areas. To instill this sense of safety and lower energy costs, many cities have begun replacing traditional street lighting with amber LED lighting, which provides sufficient visibility for pedestrians and vehicles but is more efficient and less intense than other lights. But can our street lighting do even more?

While it would be unreasonable to expect lighting to eliminate crime entirely, recent progress in LED technology may be able to help. I’m talking specifically about gun violence here, which accounts for thousands of US deaths every year. So far in 2015, there have been over 10,000 gun-related deaths and over 40,000 incidents involving guns. GE Lighting is joining forces with SST, Inc., a security company, to implement something called the ShotSpotter Gunshot Location and Detection System. The technology would provide reliable information on the time and location of gunshots, which authorities can now only provide about 10% of the time. The two companies have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to install ShotSpotter technology into GE’s software- and sensor-enabled LED streetlights.

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Gunshot Detection Technology Combined with LED Lighting

ShotSpotter uses acoustic sensor technology to detect when and where gunshots occur. If combined with the right software, ShotSpotter could analyze data and send results to law enforcement and first-response agencies.

This is where GE Lighting comes in. Earlier this year, GE introduced the Intelligent Environments for Cities platform—a fancy name for their series of data-sensor-equipped, cloud-based LEDs. GE’s lights can also transmit data on weather and light conditions, parking availability, environmental hazards, and be equipped with video monitoring and public-address systems. San Diego, CA, is one of the cities already using GE LED technology; they’ve reported a savings of more than $350,000.

With ShotSpotter’s gunshot monitoring technology, GE’s intelligent LEDs can each be part of a revolutionary network of responsive, data-collecting devices. Installing this network in a violent neighborhood would provide an automated, 24/7 neighborhood watch program.

Reliable and Immediate Information for First Responders

Law enforcement and emergency responders often lack immediate and reliable information about shootings. Individuals in neighborhoods plagued with frequent gun violence are often reluctant or unable to report information on shootings. Oftentimes, those who do report a shooting can only provide incomplete or incorrect information.

Installing sensor technology into LED lighting helps close this information gap and makes it possible for police, ambulatory services, and other first responders to assist gunshot victims and apprehend suspects. The LEDs would be able to collect data on incidents including the number of shots fired, the number of shooters, and the precise location from which shots were fired. Almost immediately after bullets are shot, information can alert dispatchers or specific responders, similar to alarm notification software many companies are already using. Over time, the data would be able to show, specifically, where these crimes are happening and where law enforcement would be most effectively deployed.

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LiFi Brings Us One Step Closer to the Internet of Things

The collaboration between GE Lighting and SST demonstrates how LED lighting offers much more than illumination. LEDs in LiFi, which is basically WiFi transmitted through the visible light spectrum, could turn every streetlight into a technological node; a web of these nodes across a city would act like an interactive, communicative web of information.

As ShotSpotter and GE continue to roll out their plans for the lights, experts are exploring the other applications of their technology. Streetlights wired with both ShotSpotter and LiFi technology have the potential to alert mobile users within a specific radius of a shooting, giving them a chance to find cover. Similar alerts could be sent to alert users about extreme weather, heat, or cold.

Do you think ShotSpotter technology would have a positive impact on urban crime rates? Let me know below!

 

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General Lighting Future wireless technology

For Paris Metro Stations, Lifi is the new Wifi

You’ve heard of WiFi, but have you heard of LiFi? LiFi is an emerging technology which would essentially move the internet out of your router, and into your light fixtures. This fast-developing optical wireless communications technology could help increase the capacity of wireless data networks, and provide some promising benefits along the way.

What is Li-Fi?


Wireless fidelity
, or WiFi, uses UHF and SHF ISM radio bands to allow wireless devices to exchange information. LiFi is a very similar concept, except it uses the visible light spectrum, or VLC,  to transmit data. The lighting spectrum is 10,000 times larger than the radio frequency spectrum, which would add an enormous boost to the size and speed of wireless communication capabilities. LED technology has brought the idea of LiFi closer to reality, due to it’s superior controllability and reliability.

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LiFi may soon have its first broad application in a surprising place: the Paris Metro. The Metro has a quarter of a million lights in its 302 underground stations and its 66 commuter rail stations. Currently, the lights are being replaced with LEDs as part of a $12 million effort to upgrade the system and make it more energy efficient.

The timing of this project is fortuitous. While other subway systems are looking into costly upgrades to provide WiFi in their tunnels, the Metro has the advantage of piggybacking onto the current lighting upgrade. The manager for the light replacement project has confirmed that since June, the Metro has been looking at the feasibility of taking advantage of the project’s timing to install LiFi technology in the Paris Metro.

LiFi does have its limitations. Most notably, VLC has a much shorter range than the radio spectrum. The visible light spectrum also cannot transmit through walls or other barriers.

These disadvantages, however, can be turned into advantages. In a confined space such as the Paris Metro, passengers do not have to worry about range limitations or WiFi dead spots. The signal will be available wherever visible light can reach. The space limitations of LiFi can also enhance user security because hackers are not able to access the signal from remote places.

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LiFi can be used in other applications, such as secure facilities, where the only users accessing the signal are the ones that are already inside. LiFi can also be used in electromagnetic sensitive areas such as hospitals or airplanes.

As LEDs continue to increase in popularity on the market, the cost of installing LiFi can potentially be folded into the expenses already incurred in upgrading lighting infrastructure. The Paris Metro project would be the first example of a large scale public use of LiFi. If successful, it may provide the blueprints for others to upgrade to this promising technology.

 

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General Lighting Future of technology LED wireless technology

New LiFi LED App Illuminates the Future of Shopping

While strolling the aisles of the Carrefour supermarket in Lille, France, supermarket shoppers may be unaware that they are able to participate in a technological revolution known as LiFi. The supermarket has installed an LED lighting system that beams promotional specials and location information directly to in-store consumers via their smartphones through VLC technology. Invisible to the human eye, the LEDs transmit a digital code via light waves and provide merchants with a viable, more accurate option than the Bluetooth-based beacons.

Beyond Illumination

The intent of the LiFi system is to assist and track consumers as they move throughout the retail establishment. The LED lighting system has the capacity to broadcast up to 10 gigabits per second. Carrefour executive Celine Martin asserts that the new technology will provide consumers with a more pleasant shopping experience, allowing them to find the promotions and products they desire, in a more efficient and effective manner. For instance, you would no longer need to search up and down for that particular brand of soda that grandma likes—now you can simply ask your phone which aisle to find it in.

The technology, developed by Philips, is a non-invasive and cost effective application. The LED system requires only 50% of the electricity that is used by traditional lighting systems. Each of the specially designed LiFi lamps broadcasts a unique, distinct code throughout the store. Consumers are informed of the LED system and are able to open an “app,” on their smartphone, then point their smartphone upward towards the overhead LED lighting. The LiFi system is then able to get a fix on their location, within an accuracy of three feet and can determine the direction the consumer is facing.

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Better Than Beacons

The LiFi LED lighting system is similar in nature to GPS-based maps and is comparable to WiFi based location systems, though location data through LiFi has proven to be more accurate than WiFi. Most retailers have been employing Bluetooth beacons as a less expensive option to investigate and engage a trial run of similar type systems, rather than invest in full the cost and labor required to replace an existing in-store lighting system. However, replacing the lighting system with LED would still provide the same long term ROI due to their increased efficiency. Additionally, the beacons require users’ phones to have Bluetooth capabilities turned on and be compatible with the latest Bluetooth standard.

Davies Murphy Group technology analyst, Chris Green believes that merchants should consider the LiFi LED lighting system as a long-term investment, which provides them more beneficial options as opposed to the beacon system. While they may be cheaper, to implement a Bluetooth beacon system with a similar level of accuracy would require a multitude of beacons strategically situated throughout the establishment and support current Bluetooth technology.

Still not convinced the use of VLC is the coolest thing since sliced bread? Do you think it would make your shopping experience more convenient? Worried about invasions of privacy? Watch the video and tell us what you think!