Thursday, 13 August 2015

New Safety Benefits of LEDs and the Internet of Everything

The internet of everything is becoming increasingly discussed as the future of our society, in previous blogs we have explored how LEDs fits into this digital world but now it has been discovered that LEDs and the industrial internet can be used to benefit our safety.
Designs that combine LEDs with wireless sensors and data-transmitting technology have been successfully implemented for safety uses in cities in Brazil and Spain. 
The Brazilian city of Bauru, hometown of the famous football player Pelé, in the state of Sao Paolo is one of Brazil's most densely populated centres with extremely high volumes of traffic. These issues are cause for concern in the UN 'decade for Action for Road Safety 2011-20'. The purpose of this foundation is to reduce the ever increasing numbers of traffic fatalities and to save five million lives in the ten year period. 
Obviously good lighting is crucial in this so in 2013 Bauru partnered with lighting company GE to convert over 2,000 traffic lights to LED. These LED signals last ten times longer than the traditional lights used and reduce energy consumption by up to 80%. In terms of safety for road users, these LED traffic lights produce greater visibility and clearer colours, this reduces risk of drivers being distracted by the intense Brazilian sunlight. There are nearly 3,400 traffic accidents in the world every day but Bauru and GE's contribution is helping to bring that figure down, perhaps other cities in the world should follow their lead. 
Not only could LEDs reduce the amount of traffic accidents, the introduction of wireless sensored infrastructures is able to give advance warnings of natural disasters. Although this is a problem that doesn't really enter our day to day concerns in Britain, the reality is that in the last 25 years there has been a staggering 850,000 deaths in the world due to natural disasters. This amounts to $3,300 billion in economic damage, a figure that's pretty incomprehensible. 
The the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities initiative is a campaign created to help cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing of our modern society. As part of this initiative the La Garrotxa region in Spain is devoting itself to reduce the death toll of natural disasters by developing a daily monitoring system that will provide early earthquake and flood warnings. La Garrotxa is located to the northeast of Barcelona and between the Mediterranean and the Pyranees and is known for its volcanic landscape. It has become one of the first test sites for this new kind of early warning system. This new technology uses Wifi and 40 different types of environmental sensors managed through a dashboard and enables local officials to monitor local river levels for early signs of flooding and can also measure temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide levels which could be used to detect forest fires which the area is prone to. These examples show the possible safety features of LEDs and wireless technologies that could be employed within fire and police departments in addition to government offices. Making our infrastructures more sophisticated will allow us to transmit crucial data at the speed of light, creating safer cities and a safer world. 

Blog post adapted from Illuminated minds article 'LEDs put safety first' July 14 2015

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