In a recent column for LD+A, Mark Lien, LC, LEED-AP, Industry Relations Manager, Illuminating Engineering Society, talks about a meeting with several lighting futurists. Together, they evaluated a list of 10 propositions and were asked to agree or disagree with them.

I believe the group was spot on in their agreement regarding one statement, “The lighting industry is threatened by assimilation into the electronics, telecom and Internet companies as it appears to be becoming an integral part of a larger product.”

Lien states:

The outcome will be determined by the value we offer, how easy it is to commoditize it and whether we can convey our value in time. If a pole on a street integrates video surveillance, microphones, sensors for gunshots, pole tilt, asset management, seismic activity, various pollutants, temperature, humidity, radiation, pollen and other allergens, along with GPS, a public-address system, sirens, Wi-Fi, vehicle guidance signals, a drone docking station, etc. and it also has a lighting module built in, is it a luminaire or a digital platform with the LED option? Who owns the design and manufacture of this end product? What if LED modules are produced for various height and spacing criteria and they just need to be inserted into the option plate on a pole?

The answer for preserving and enhancing value in the lighting industry is the same as ever, which is to quantify and communicate the effect of lighting and design options. Not just in terms of energy, but aesthetics, safety/security, health, visual comfort, sales and so on.

Lien goes on:

We have excellent researchers and facilities who, given the funding and time, could excel at their part. New and updated standards would result and drive further growth. Our outreach for marketing and education beyond the insular borders of our industry is often a topic of discussion but rarely realized. There are visionaries who even now are considering how to unify our educational efforts. A unified vision would aid the marketing outreach …

Our lighting community has the resources to shape the future of our industry. We need the shared vision and the will.