We know that the world’s population is growing at exponential rates. Six billion people will soon become seven, seven will likely become eight, and so on. At the same time, that growing population is steadily moving into urban environments. Consider that by 2030, the number of people living in cities worldwide is set to exceed five billion. By 2050, we expect urbanites to comprise a full 70% of the global population.
With our cities growing day by day, there will be a corresponding increase in demands on infrastructure — among them, improved systems for lighting our streets, our markets and our homes. Alongside the needs of residents, businesses are developing new ways to use light in healthcare, food production, and water purification, which is also fueling demand. Despite challenges of designing solutions more efficient and accessible, meeting the needs of our cities isn’t out of reach. With incomes rising along with populations in certain regions of the world, lighting will become an increasingly affordable commodity as new technologies help make that a reality.
To future cities, beautification and organization will become key to sculpting unique places “that will attract business, tourism, and bring communities together,” Harry Verhaar, Philips’ Senior Director of Energy and Climate Change, explains. And light can help accomplish just that, “Sustainable energy-efficient lighting helps cities express their unique identities and truly shine on the global map, making them safe, cost-effective, connected and beautiful.”
The Netherlands’ city of Rotterdam incorporated Philips’ CityTouch street lighting system to manage lighting resources online with the ability to fine-tune its output to meet local needs. Combined with LED lighting, CityTouch can help a city save up to 70% on energy and maintenance costs — essential savings that can be reinvested other essential city infrastructure and public services like education and community programs for residents.
But still today, there are 1.5 billion people around the world living without access to electricity. While we may take for granted the ability to read and work past dark with ease, for many people the day ends when the sun goes down — a major hindrance to education efforts and business development. Rogier van der Heide, Philips’ Vice President and Chief Design Officer, shares this sentiment saying, “Their ticket out of poverty really is, in my belief, education. We want kids to be able to read safely and pleasantly at night at home.”
Philips has already initiated its Community Light Center project to help alleviate such concerns. Across rural Africa, 100 “light centers,” or spaces for healthcare, education, and social events lit by solar LED lighting have been installed to enable community life after dark. The solar-powered lighting systems create a long-term model for empowering the local community, while bringing greater economic and social stability.
Sustainable innovations like these are helping improve the lives of citizens around the world, ensuring more efficient use of valuable resources and providing new opportunities for communities and cities to thrive.
The Future of Light series explores light’s potential to improve lives, build communities, and connect people in new and meaningful ways. Brought to you in partnership with Philips Lighting, a full report is available as an iOS and Android app or as a downloadable PDF.