Mackwell And The Dawn Of A New Era In Control

emergency lightingLike so much in life, the subtle changes in our lives sneak up on us and become part of the fabric of who we are and how we live our lives. Technology is a great example, where for many of us the thought of not having a smart phone or tablet PC seems almost too dreadful to consider.

OK so I'm being slightly melodramatic but in some respects the younger generation has grown up with computers and mobile technology and hasn't really experienced pre ‘connected tech’. I should add that technology is nothing new and if we look back over the generations I'm sure the dawn of each new technology has created its own machinations.

The mystery of technology has for so many been a topic that has both empowered and handicapped the user. The rise of the IT guru has brought with it a potential geek monster that claims secret powers transcending the mundane with the mantra Ctrl, Alt, Del as the universal leveller of tech. We empower these individuals or departments with the intelligence that makes businesses powerful, their trade secrets and often the financial and business fabric of said business.

Now don't get me wrong, a good IT department is worth its weight in gold. They control and manage the very fabric of your business and increasingly provide the portal to interact with existing and potential customers. They also run your internal IT system and allow the company and the individual to connect to the World Wide Web.

All of this is well known and for many of us the fact that we connect at work, send e mails and communicate with colleagues and customers across the globe is nothing new. What has changed is the infrastructure we connect into. People we have gone mobile!

How many of us now use our phones or tablets to access the web? We sit at home and connect to social media to like or share the latest picture from a friend or acquaintance from around the world. Millions of gigabytes of data are uploaded to YouTube daily. Images of our loved ones are now stored in the “Cloud”. Yes, the “Cloud” is just a server sitting in what can only be described as a giant warehouse somewhere in the UK or Europe. In essence it is banks of servers linked together, storing our data and providing access to our lives from multiple devices.

Now you can argue that this is a good or bad thing - but the reality is that technology drives innovation and, like so much technology, the fact that accessing and sharing data becomes so straightforward is a massive plus point.

So I have set the scene; tech has evolved and we have changed the way we interact. So what does this mean for lighting? Well it might surprise many of you but lighting has undergone a revolution in the past few years with the rapid growth in the use of LEDs in lighting. Now the benefits of LED’s are well known and the transition to LED as a prime source of lighting makes perfect sense.

However, the focus has been on the light source and not necessarily on how we control and regulate light – or make wider use of the lighting infrastructure. Now that focus is changing as the ‘Internet of Things’, combined with ‘Power over Ethernet’, opens the door for lighting networks to play a significantly broader role in the management of the building.

For example, it is now commonplace for a lighting management system to incorporate occupancy detection, switching or dimming the lighting accordingly. That data, however, is also a valuable source of information regarding the way the building is used and has the potential to replace the time and resource intensive space utilisation studies currently carried out by facilities managers.

The fact that emergency lighting systems, by their very nature, are present in every part of the building means that the systems have the potential to be at the heart of such communication networks. There are, therefore, some very interesting times ahead for emergency lighting and Mackwell will continue to lead the way.


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