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Brighter lives, smarter cities, by Bill Bien, global head of strategy, marketing and alliances, Philips Lighting

Brighter lives, smarter cities,  by Bill Bien, global head of strategy, marketing and alliances, Philips Lighting

Today, some 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in cities. By 2020, two-thirds of us will be urbanised. In parallel, the global population is forecast by the United Nations to reach almost 10 billion by 2050, driving demand for resources. These are the megatrends shaping the 21st century. Smarter cities, made possible by rapid gains in digital technology and analytics, are the necessary response.


Fortunately, investment in smart city innovations can pay for itself from efficiency gains and reduced energy costs. Research by The Climate Group, a business alliance, has found that pilot schemes for connected LED street lighting in 12 major cities achieved energy savings of 50 per cent from LED, rising to 80 per cent when paired with smart controls. Nowhere is the drive for greater energy efficiency more attainable than in cities.


Retrofitting street lighting with scalable and open systems creates an intelligent backbone for smart cities: the horizontal on which to build the new services and applications, or verticals, on which the health of our cities and planet depend. Linked to cloud-based platforms and ubiquitous 4G mobile networks, street lighting can relay real-time information on traffic congestion, air quality, public safety, energy consumption and waste.


Lighting connected by cloud technology enables city managers to unlock huge efficiencies in asset management and the Internet of Things. In Los Angeles and Buenos Aires, for example, these systems also relay real-time analytics to city managers. Sensors embedded in connected, digital LED lights have transformed “dumb” street poles into prized digital real estate. In the same way, the surrounding cityscape of our public spaces, offices and homes is ripe for improvement.


In the French city of Lille, the Carrefour hypermarket is in the vanguard of a new retail experience. Visible Light Communication between lighting beacons and customers’ smart phones helps people to navigate the store, identify promotions, and remember where they parked their car. In the United Arab Emirates, leading retailer aswaaq has deployed the region’s first LED-based indoor positioning system.


In Amsterdam, Philips Lighting has worked with officer developer OVG to deliver the world’s most sustainable office – known as The Edge – for client Deloitte. Our Power over Ethernet technology powers intelligent lighting through data cables, saving energy use and enhancing the office environment. Next to improved morale and productivity, detailed analytics from the lighting system allow facilities managers to make better use of space and resources.


The future of the smart home is already emerging. Motion sensor-based systems such as Philips Hue have made possible houses filled with intelligent lighting: Light that follows you, adapts to your daily routine, helps you to work and to relax. Connected LED is a catalyst for urban horticulture too, reducing the distance that food needs to travel to reach urban consumers. Our collaborations include Green Sense Farms, one of the world’s largest indoor commercial farms.


Globally, our cities consume some 75 per cent of global primary energy, according to the European Commission. Simply replacing incandescent lighting with LED typically reduces energy consumption by 53 per cent. Almost uniquely, lighting is a form of energy efficiency that pays for itself from cost savings. As the world works towards newly agreed climate change targets, we can no longer afford the status quo.


At Philips Lighting, we start from the concept of The Right Light – a recognition that daily life is improved by ambient, dynamic, responsive and interactive light. On short winter days in Uppsala, Sweden for example, our outdoor lighting extends children’s time to play outdoors by 37 per cent, with demonstrable benefits for their moods and sleeping patterns.


Our systems and services are built for Connected Operations, on open platforms that can adapt to as yet unknown use cases of the future – we call these, Evolving Applications. Above all, smart cities are about people – and how people can interact with technology. Research commissioned by Philips Lighting from the Economist Intelligence Unit found rising expectations for public administration and city services to become more connected and responsive:


“Digital tools that help business and citizens participate in urban planning and policy-making could unleash a wealth of new insights that will ultimately make cities smarter, more resilient and more sustainable.” Economist Intelligence Unit


Connected LED makes possible quantum gains in energy efficiency, or EE. Simply doubling the rate of improvement in EE to 3 per cent per year, from its current rate of just 1.5 per cent per year, would achieve fully two-thirds of the change needed to reduce carbon emissions. This new economic model of low carbon growth would unlock six million new jobs by 2020, save an estimated €2,300 billion in fuel costs by 2030, and reduce household energy bills by one-third.


Bill Bien joined Philips at the start of 2015 as head of strategy and marketing for Philips Lighting. His focus is on driving the strategic direction of the business, building the brand and delivering a strong integrated marketing capability to underpin the company’s growth plans.


He has extensive international experience in strategy development in the technology sector and the "Internet of Things,” international marketing, services business development and corporate development.


Bill’s career has recently focused on strategic consulting for start-up business and Fortune 100 high technology industry leaders in the USA. He joined Philips from the Waterstone Management Group (San Francisco, USA.)

Prior to that Bill has worked in senior management roles in marketing, business development, strategy and sales for Telstra in Australia and Cisco in the United States. His marketing work has won global awards for branding and enterprise marketing campaigns. He has also worked for the Boston Consulting Group in Asia.


Bill was born in the US and holds a Juris Doctorate degree from Stanford Law School and a BA degree in Economics and Chinese from the Ohio State University.



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Philips’ light-as-a-service offering

Philips installs, maintains and manages the lighting throughout its lifecycle and customers do not need to invest in new hardware upfront

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