Light is life. For thousands of years, light has promised humans warmth and a feeling of security. Yet with the electronic revolution came permanent lighting, which demonstrated that you can have too much light – to the extent that we now talk about the problem of light pollution. This not only disturbs the circadian rhythms of humans, animals and plants, but also wastes vast amounts of energy. There are now effective ways of getting a grip on wasteful permanent lighting – even where light should never be switched off completely.
This is the case on railway station platforms, for example. For safety reasons, it is not an option to simply switch off lighting at stations. The risk of vandalism or attacks on passengers is simply too great. Dimming or selective switching of the lamps is too expensive to do manually. So the lights are usually left on. Until now. As part of its “Strategy 2020”, DB is attempting to make drastic cuts in its energy consumption – and station lighting does not escape from this initiative. Time for the “Lumen over IP” project: switching off lights is getting smarter.
“Lumen over IP” automatically assumes control of the lighting. A half hour after the last train has gone, a defined scenario comes into effect and ensures that the lighting is based on need – on a fully automatic basis. Half an hour before departure of the first train in the morning, the lighting is fully restored. This might initially sound like a simple time switch. But “Lumen over IP” can do so much more. Because even if the train is late, it is no problem: the lighting control system is notified of this by means of an internet connection and delays the switching of the lights accordingly. In future, the lighting may even be controlled by monitoring the start of the escalator or detecting other movement on the platform. The security service can also switch the lights on at any time – simply by means of a smartphone app.
“Lumen over IP”, however, not only helps to save electricity, but also simplifies maintenance. In stations with modern lighting systems each lamp can be individually linked to the internet. So the system can not only dim the lights or switch them off individually – it can also monitor their status on a continuous basis. If the need arises, a much faster response can be made to failures and the lamps put back into service.
Of course, the use of intelligent lighting control is not restricted to stations. Whether in a maintenance shed outside working hours, out on the tracks or for conference rooms in office buildings: intelligent “Lumen over IP” light control can prevent the unnecessary wasting of energy in a whole range of scenarios. Simply by adapting the lighting to actual needs. Helping the environment and saving money.
This still sounds like a pipe-dream. But the first pilot project of DB Systel, together with its partner DB Station&Service, and the CGI Group has already been started. In a feasibility study, the Cologne-Mülheim station has only been half-lit at night since August 2015. However, the lights are not dimmed as the existing technology is not suitable. Instead a “night-time setting” is the solution used here: only every second light is switched on. The lamps are supplied from two different power circuits, which are switched off alternately each day. As part of the pilot project it is now already possible to control the light at all times (e.g. in emergencies or when trains are delayed) using the software, the control commands being transmitted directly via the IP network. The test phase will run for three months and the finished product should then be ready in 2016 – with other stations to follow.