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New Study Shows Crime Rates Unaffected By Night Lighting

Many cities have invested in significant upgrades to street lighting, converting to energy efficient LED and solar powered fixtures in an effort to save money and power. In some places, the local government has resorted to turning off the night time street lighting entirely. There are those who believe that this is an unacceptable option for conserving resources, citing an increase in traffic accidents and crime as a reason to keep the lights on. A new study from the University of London School of Medicine, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, has called this correlation into question, concluding that there is no relationship between increased street lighting and less crime.

Research Casts Shadows on Conventional Wisdom

Night lighting in cities consumes a lot of energy, and the light pollution from heavily populated areas has a detrimental impact on the environment. Municipalities assume that the financial and environmental costs of lighting are a necessary evil in order to reduce crime and prevent automobile collisions. Only recently have local governments, who may not be able to afford LED Amber upgrades, been scaling back their night lighting for both cost and environmental reasons. The choice to turn off the lights has often been portrayed as a somber sacrifice in safety.

The 2015 study indicates that this may, in fact, be a false portrayal of the situation. Researchers looked at data on road traffic collisions and crime in 62 cities in England and Wales where authorities had turned the lights off, dimmed the lights, turned them off intermittently, or substituted the lamps with low-power LEDs. They found that reduced lighting had no effect on crime or accident rates.

The University of London’s study is consistent with other recent research. A 2011 study, focusing on London, found no correlation between street lighting and safety. A 1997 report to the United States Congress by the National Institute of Justice reached the same conclusion. A further study, conducted by the City of Chicago in 2000, showed that bad outdoor lighting can actually contribute to crime rates; while a 2012 report by the American Medical Association concluded that glare from unshielded lights can decrease safety for drivers.

Fear of the Dark: Addressing Public Concerns

Increased lighting may not increase safety, but it does affect the perception of safety. City dwellers out at night understandably feel that they need stronger lighting to travel safely. Residents in some cities have expressed concern when night lighting was dimmed or eliminated to save money.

To address these concerns, community leaders must engage in outreach with residents so that they understand the basis for any street lighting plan. Residents are less likely to object to such changes if they are consulted up front and given reasons supported by facts to explain the locality’s plan of action.

It is also important to note that reducing outdoor lighting does not mean eliminating night lighting entirely. Many of the councils under study had replaced traditional lighting with energy saving measures such as amber LED lights. These lights are dimmer but still provide sufficient illumination for pedestrians and drivers alike; and their low, familiar orange glow cannot be seen by nocturnal species. City leaders can apply common sense to provide adequate visibility at night and at the same time reduce unnecessary glare by installing fully shielded or cutoff fixtures wherever applicable.

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The Buzz on LED Lighting & Insect Attraction

When LED lights first became widely available, there was a lot of buzz centered around how these energy efficient lamps didn’t attract insects. However, as often happens with new technologies, misinformation abounds. The simple fact is LED lights do attract bugs, simply because insects are attracted to sources of light.

A Bug’s Favorite Color

A 2005 study conducted by the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad, Pakistan, found that 60%–70% of insects prefer light at the blue end of the spectrum. What about the others? Like humans, insects have their own preferences. An additional 18% chose white light, while 10% looked for yellow, and 2% preferred red. Ultraviolet (UV) light also attracts bugs which was source of the assumption that LEDs would not bring all the bugs to the yard—they emit very little UV light.

Why is it that LED lamps attract bugs? Quite simply, where there is light, there will be bugs. In addition, LED lamps typically emit light in the cool end of the color spectrum. The color temperatures of light bulbs is measured on the Kelvin absolute temperature scale. The greater the number, the cooler the light appears. LED lights—especially those with higher Kelvin ratings—produce a significant amount of blue light, thus making them more attractive to insects.

Into the Light

Good lighting, however, is an important part of an outdoor environment at night because lights provide safety while also allowing you to enjoy your outdoor living area well into the evening. Many proponents of LED lights claim that these lamps don’t attract as many bugs as other types of lighting. In a matter of speaking, this claim is correct as LED lamps do not attract as many insects as traditional CFL bulbs.
So what are homeowners supposed to do when purchasing porch lights for an outdoor living area? The answer is yellow bug lights. While yellow bug lights aren’t exactly an insect repellant, they do help keep insects away from your lighted outdoor activities at night. They work because insects have a difficult time seeing light in the yellow end of the spectrum. The good news is LED bug lights are now available, allowing you to save money while reducing insects in your backyard.

Sports LED

LED Lighting for Volleyball Courts Makes Regulatory Compliance Easier

If you run outdoor volleyball facilities for a town, club or professional association, you know how much of a headache compliance with light-trespass and light-pollution regulations has become. Even light systems that are compliant at installation degrade in both light quality and fixture orientation, and bam—you have an unhappy neighbor or a regulatory official pounding on your door.

LED volleyball court lighting systems are now available to help you save money with greatly reduced energy costs, reduced maintenance needs, and greatly improved lighting for players. Many LED fixtures available for sports lighting now are able to reduce the energy use by 50-60% as compared to traditional HID systems. Improvements in LED technology has increased the rated life from 50,000 hours to an astounding 100,000 hours; almost 10 times the life of pulse start-metal halide lights. This extension in lamp life allows for your sports court lights to fit regulations longer.

Beyond  reduced energy use and increased life, LED lighting is carefully shaped, focused and tuned using custom optic designs to direct all the light to the ground, right where you want it, without glare to observers outside the court area and without spillage upwards to contribute to light pollution and “dark sky” impingement. This ability to direct light in specific directions helps prevent non-compliance due to a slight movement in a mounting arm. In addition, custom light optics prevents shadows on the courts as well as fixtures or lights obstructing players views.

Lower energy and maintenance costs, better lighting for court and player needs and a reduction in “light law” violations… what’s not to like?

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LEDs Give Consumers New Direction with Visual Light Communications

As technology improves convenience and efficiency in practically every facet of our lives, and generations growing up with it becoming the rule—not the exception—it is only fitting that the way we shop also evolves. Besides the internet, shopping has not changed much worth noting, until today. Armed with mobile devices and swipe-ready technology, retailers are eyeing ways to take better advantage of the new digital shop-a-holic.

Follow the Lights

Combining forces with GPS and smartphone technology, visual light communications, otherwise known as VLC, is using LED lights to relay feedback to shoppers and make their experience much more interactive and efficient for both the consumer and the retailer. All the big names are invested in this trend, GE, ByteLight, Philips, and other LED brands are on-board the VLC train.

LED lighting up Aisles

So, it turns out that not only are LED lights the superior light bulb technology, but they are also the preferred method for communication for consumers with smartphones and tablets (smart watches, too). LED technology allows for rapid output of not only light, but also data to receptive devices.

The process involves LED lights flashing patterns to the camera of your devices in a quick succession that is undetectable to the human eye. This method of digital smoke signals is going to make things more seamless for the consumer, it will make Q codes and alike feel archaic.  This VLC technology will also allow for a faster method of using WiFi in the near future, once the demand for it rises.

Essentially, VLC in stores will allow for a much better understanding of customer behavior, the ability to serve them relevant information, i.e. to help find something in their aisle, and offer them more ways to interact with them.

More ways of using VLC

VLC application ideas are only limited to one’s imagination. Even in its most basic form as a more accurate form of GPS, it offers plenty of potential.  Each major company has their own plan about how they want to integrate this LED technology. Philips is using a system to send customers exact location data on items they have listed on their downloadable app. This sharing of information allows for instant offers or coupons for nearby items located in their aisle. It is like driving around town with your GPS telling you about the store across the street having a big sale or searching for stores in realtime that have an item in-stock that you are looking for.

We are sure that within the next year, you will have this seamless level of access to the things that you want, know where to find it, and know what other deals on the same item are nearby, so that you spend less time getting lost and more time buying what you want. This is a win-win for retailers and consumers everywhere.

The best part about LED lights sending data via VLC? It costs zero dollars to invest in this technology for stores who already use LED lights in their stores. Just imagine, that beaming data to smartphones can really make navigating airports and numerous venues quick and painless.  We can’t wait.

This is the stuff that truly feels like we are finally entering the future of convenience technology.  We are essentially meeting and surpassing those sci-fi depictions of how the future might look for shopping and getting around.

It is actually kind of funny now, thinking about all those futuristic movies where the tension elements are usually scrambling against the clock to locate and get precious resources, but they usually lack accurate devices to track something as small as a bag of Fritos™ on a shelf. That is a sign that we have finally made it.