Be the Light! – November 2019 Newsletter


The article below was written by your fellow student, Chaitanya Dang. We appreciate the thought and time that went into writing this interesting article.

Hello everyone! As your fellow classmate from India, I, Chaitanya Dang, am excited to share experiences of my journey from Raipur, India to Sweden for Lights in Alingsas workshop and then to Prague for SIGNAL Festival and to Berlin for Festival of Lights.

Alingsas is a small town at about 150 kms from the megacity Gothenburg in Sweden. Currently in its 20th year, Lights in Alingsas is a pioneer of Lighting Design in the public realm. Every year, experienced lighting designers and students from all over the world come together to convert cold, mundane building facades, roadsides, lakesides, parks etc. into hot, colourful and interesting icons, spaces in the city. ‘Lights in Alingsas’ is therefore a workshop that results in a big public exhibition visited by about 80,000 people. The workshop lasts for about 5 days and the exhibition for about 35 days. The locals are enthusiastic about this event as it plays a big role in their local economy and identity.

The realisation of this workshop and exhibition happens in a very structured manner. Apart from lighting design experts and students, there are qualified electricians, student electrician helpers that play a major role in the whole process. There are about six or seven chosen sites for lighting design interventions and the whole student body is divided into teams based on their preferences. Team leaders are active lighting designers from various countries chosen based on their applications about eight months before the workshop starts. The sites are selected by the team leaders about four months before the workshop dates. Around this time, applications for student participants are floated online as well. Every applicant is therefore aware of the selected lighting designers, can look at their previous works and later on make a preference based on their chosen site and their initial idea presentations.

This year, ‘Lights in Alingsas’ had an overall theme – ‘Be the Light!’. The workshop was scheduled from 21st September to 28th September.
Day 1 of the workshop was reserved as the orientation day when the participants are briefed about the program, history, vision, aim and objectives. Interactions start at 9:30 am and it feels like first day in college. We were a batch of about 60 students of lighting design, representing 27 different nationalities and everyone was visibly very excited to be there. The day progressed with presentations by the chosen team leaders and a walk taking everyone through all the chosen sites. This walk culminated with a delightful visit to the headquarters.

Big lights, lights dancing 360 degrees while pivoted on the table, tubular lights, linear lights, alien looking consoles, random patterned splashes of RGB colours on the ceiling…we were moving around them, trying to figure out what lights have come for which site. I think we all felt like emerging heroes looking at the impressive toys from the program sponsors. We had a decision to make, given a choice…. how would you choose your superpower?…!


Indeed, the biggest internal conflict we all had was regarding the site to choose. There are things you do and learn, and there are things you see and learn. This is where I believe, things got hyper-personalised. It was certain, however, whatever we chose… I think, we would anyway have learnt a lot.  

So, Day 2 started with presentations on Swedish standards for safety and environmental responsibilities and acceptable social behaviour. Meanwhile we were sorted into groups based on individual preferential lists. I was in Team 2, headed by NATALIE REDFORD & CLAIRE TOMARA from Scotland. Our site was a regular symmetrical appearing part of otherwise a huge and very interesting Nolhaga park with a dull fountain in the center with some benches on the side. The team leaders called their project – “The Eye” and were open to further discovery and interpretation of the concept. I loved their previous works, balanced experiment, ‘discuss and decide’ approach but somewhere I felt the site was less exuberant than other sites.

Interestingly, I chose this site. One major reason was the fact that I had zero imagination of what to do with such a standard site. I mean, a flat park with some benches, stairs, a fountain… it’s not hard to find this composition in any other city of the world and I could not break free from that very imagery in my mind.

We started with getting to know our team mates, visited the site in the evening and stayed there until it got dark. Honestly, my perception flipped completely. The space was beautiful and had a very calming effect on all of us. For sure, we wanted to retain that. The site was a bit depressing at night with just two blunt lamps that unrespectfully fulfilled their purpose of throwing light in the area. For sure, we wanted to change that.

That night and the next four days and nights, obvious extended nights were “crazy but in a subtle way”… a superhit description that I subconsciously penned while giving the final presentation on 27th September. We started with pen and paper, jotted our impressions for the site. While discussing and describing our feelings we figured what we wanted our visitors to experience. We figured the primary viewing point was atop the stairs and the viewer would ultimately focus on the centre which currently had that dull fountain. In the process, we ditched some confusing lingo and prescribed terms like- inner circle, outer circle and the stage. It was epic when everyone arrived at the same page on their own. That’s exactly when we put the paper aside and went completely hands on!

The inner circle and outer circle were basically the two pathways around the fountain as seen in the picture. The ‘stage’ was the fountain and the inner circle where the visitors would come and do what they usually do – walking, standing around, maintaining their own pace, as individuals, as crowds, clicking photos, playing with water patterns of the fountain basin.

Our first interaction with the luminaires was a plug and play kind of exercise. We had lights with different beam angles and spreads, a few were programmable RGB lights, we also had DMX controls for testing the colours. We had different elements to deal with- stairs, trees, pathway and the fountain. Excitement escalated even higher when we decided to experiment with our waterproof lights in the fountain. I stood in the fountain basin with two lights, wearing an oversized rubber wetsuit that I think was nearest to me in size. Others went back and forth to see the lighting effects from the stairs. We tried creating better contrasts to highlight the pattern of water on a screen. We needed answers to various variables… do we keep the fountain as it is? Where do we mount the lights… light towards the centre or the other way around? and what not!

Next day, we formulated concepts on paper, the stairs were the viewing platform and were supposed to give the viewers a sense of direction towards the center stage. Our’s was a site with good number of benches. Four benches were in the inner circle around the fountain and on the outer circle there were two more private sitting areas shielded by bushes on three sides.

By night we had already split the experimental work, toing and froing circumstantially between the HQ and site, and also between stairs, fountains, trees and trailer where we kept all the cables, controls, lights, filters, coffee and snacks! I chose to work on lighting the trees, which we all verbally described as the ‘background’ to the ‘stage’ but had little understanding of how exactly to light them up. Sometimes, it even helps to know what you don’t want things to be like. With trial and error, we finalised our overall lighting strategy. But the task at hand was still big; we had to handover a working installation that remained intact for another 35 days or so.

On one hand, experiments related to the centre piece at the fountain basin were ongoing. We managed to tune out the height of the water from the fountain jet, retaining the water patterns it made in the fountain basin. On the other hand, we had to mount the lights at correct angles, apply colour filters, connect DMX cables for programming, add glare shields. Tedious tasks like cutting metal sheets, spray painting them black, taping them to the fixtures, drilling holes on the concrete bases, fixing lights on it, cutting fabric for the centre sculpture, making sure it reflected water patterns, jacketing them on wire frames, making them stand intact, running around with cables, extenders, scissors etc. were brilliantly  enmeshed with high team spirit, random hysterical laughs, variety of international meals, late night fika – small but generous breaks with tasty cake, buns, coffee, chocolate and fruits.

We finished the installation at around 2 am on 27th September. Exhausted standing on the stairs, we cheered on power saver mode when the lights were programmed. The focal center of our site represented the pupil of our eyes, expanding and contracting on its own beats, recording and registering the events on the ‘stage’, together with a soothing music it became a tool for self-reflection, of existence and peace.


In order to truly appreciate the art and experience the emotions, one needs to attend such events live. As stated before, there are things we see and learn… among the other six sites, a team experimented with mirrors and lights with the struggle of using boats to cross an oxbow lake, another team enjoyed the repetitive climbs of a hilly site and achieving a spectacular show of approximately three minutes, others  had beautiful moments and brilliant programming..


Lights in Alingsas has inspired many similar lighting events. There are opportunities for everyone in different parts of the world- like Lights in Kronach, Lights in Amman, Lights in Goa etc. There are even other kinds of lighting design and digital art festivals happening across the globe. After my workshop, I attended ‘SIGNAL Festival, Prague’ and ‘Berlin Festival of Lights’.  They had amazing lineup of 2d and 3d projections, interactive digital art and installations.


While these photos won’t really do justice to the overall experience, I sincerely hope they would inspire the readers to strive for greater participation. Experimenting with lights and experiencing lights is a big hike on the learning curve.  When I applied for Lights in Alingsas 2019, luckily, I received a scholarship that was bundled with the application form that covered my accommodation and lunches for the duration of the workshop.

Early on in my architecture curriculum, around 2014, realizing the importance of Lighting on the built environment and it’s inhabitants was an epiphany most of my classmates hadn’t had. Lighting Design has ever since, been an integral component of my plans towards professional advancement positively affecting my approach to conceptual designs, presentations, decision making and visualisations. I graduated as an Architect in 2016 and had been looking for the right kind of opportunities to study Lighting Design, since no such course exists in India.

Fast forward to 2019, I found out about BHA School of Lighting through the IALD website, was highly impressed by its curriculum, everything fitted my circumstances and I simply enrolled. And that’s where my journey kickstarted! I have been just months into this course and I am empowered to design my own career, set things on a personal timeline and give my best! It’s not every day, we find a mentor who encourages us to reach our full potential, look for better opportunities and achieve our best. With this article, I wish to highlight to my fellow students just that.

How Lighting Education has Changed

Some 45 years ago when I studied all that is lighting at my alma mater, after studying light, the human eye and vision, colour, and a range of subjects that were then individual subjects and which today are consolidated into the modules that you study today. The course moved on to teach about standards, lighting applications and of course the lumen and point methods for lighting calculations.  The lumen method teaching of the day still used the old Room Index method.  Of course, mathematics was an actual full subject in the curriculum.  A major part of the course from that point on focused on the practical part of the course which involved technical drawing because at that time, lighting designs were done on a drawing board and the calculations involved the use of manual calculations or the use of a slide rule.  Many of you probably do not even know what a slide rule is!

Since launching the original Diploma Course in May 2013, apart from upgrading the old correspondence course to an online course, the course content has undergone dramatic changes.  The changes related primarily to the basic content some of which has been updated as many as three times.

The next major change occurred in 2018 when after consultation with several overseas associations and associates, the NEW Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering lighting course was born.  This course curriculum received international recognition from the Ireland for the EU  where it equated to a NQ7 Level course which is on a par with a Bachelor or B-Tech degree.  Of course, I was “over the moon” with excitement.  Lighting today is far more complex than ever before.  It makes use of computer software for lighting design which makes it possible to provide very realistic visualisations for clients.  Studies about the human eye and vision PLUS the impact of light on humans, as well as fauna and flora, make us intensely aware of how important it is to have the knowledge and skill to execute high quality and well considered lighting designs.

My next achievement was to be accorded Educator Membership of the International Association of Lighting Designers which is based in Chicago, Illinois, USA with Chapters throughout the world and a membership of around the world in USA, China, Europe, South East Asia, Australia/Mew Zealand, the UK, Japan, Mexico, India and Canada.  I have been an Affiliate Member of The Institution of Lighting Professionals in the United Kingdom for many years.  Now, on 17 October 2019, I was admitted to membership of the Illumination Engineering Society of South Africa.

The most significant feature of the New Advanced Diploma course is that the 2nd year subjects focus on the new technologies which are considered to be part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.  The BHA School of Lighting is the first educational institution in the world to offer the subjects as part of a formal curriculum.  No doubt others will follow, however, the level that these new subjects is taught has been regarded as being at a Masters Level.  This ensures that our students have the highest and best level of teaching in the lighting world.  The students do not only learn about the technologies, they learn how to design the system architecture using actual BHA Lighting completed large lighting projects as the basis of their practical tasks.

Lighting suppliers who have not be bold enough to become qualified illumination engineers, are ill-equipped to advise clients about anything more than standard lighting products.

When I reflect back at the volume of work that I have personally produced to create the courses and in particular the New Advanced Diploma course, it is hard for me to appreciate how much work went into it.  I suppose that it is much like ladies giving birth, the memory of the pain that they endured during the birth fades with time!

I am passionate about lighting, about the education of others and always strive to improve the e-learning experience of the students.  I will continue to strive to improve the content and the experience.  It is with that in mind that I have invested in Webinar software and professional equipment to deliver content rich and imaginative webinars to students and other professional organisations and institutions alike.

My message to all enrolled students is – study hard, do not let this opportunity slip!

Please join with me to welcome the following new students:

  • Charne-Lee Gunning, Rexel Electrical Wholesalers, Sydney, Australia – BHASL001: Foundation Lighting Course
  • Madhura Kotkar, Architect, Pune, India – BHASL003C19: Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering Course

I ask that all fellow students join me to wish the following a happy birthday:

  • George Du Toit, Cape Town – 7 November
  • Reginald Khoza, Cape Town – 8 November
  • Enzo Manna, Johannesburg – 11 November
  • Juanita Botes, Cape Town – 11 November
  • Chantel Luyt, Cape Town – 13 November
  • Philip Nicholson, East London – 14 November
  • Relton Pillay, Johannesburg – 17 November
  • Marthinus Ras, Centurion – 21 November
  • Mark Reid, Ezulwini, Swaziland – 24 November

The following students have successfully completed courses or graduated from the Advanced Diploma course:

  • Alex Scott, Cape Town – Completion of BHASL001: Foundation Lighting Course
  • Gillian Thom, Cape Town – Completion of BHASL001: Foundation Lighting Course
  • Derick Sutherland, Cape Town – Completion of BHASL001: Foundation Lighting Course
  • Bradley Portway, POrt Elizabeth – Completion of BHASL001: Foundation Lighting
  • Hardus Pieters, Centurion – Completion of BHASL018: Online RELUX High Level Course with Distinction

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Nurse to lights: “Find a wheelchair, please!”

University Medical Center Utrecht is outfitting luminaires with network-connected chips and sensors that keep track of all the equipment that goes astray at hospitals.

Koopman Interlight LED luminaires in rooms like this at University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht will help keep tabs on wandering equipment while delivering many other insights. (Photo credit: All images courtesy of Ingy.)

Holland’s University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht is a huge place. With around 70,000 rooms spread across some 6 million ft2, portable equipment of all shapes and sizes gets misplaced — beds, infusion pumps, blood pressure monitors, wheelchairs, you name it.

“They go missing,” says Thijs Dijkgraaf, a clinical informatician at the hospital and research center. “Things are not in the right place at the right time.”

It’s a problem that is probably familiar to hospitals around the world. At UMC, the situation can be so acute that staff members sometimes stash away certain items in secret hiding places, even in ceiling panels. That’s fine for the nurse who knows where to fetch the blood pressure monitor, but it’s not so good for the many others who don’t. Not only can unavailable equipment create care problems, but it’s costly, too. Lost property requires money to replace.

And even if an item is not really lost, the amount of time that it takes to find it can strain financial budgets. Another detriment is that missing equipment undermines routine hardware maintenance and inspection schedules. If an infusion pump is due in for its yearly check, it doesn’t help if the pump is nowhere to be found.

Indeed, stray equipment is a well-known issue in the healthcare industry and one in need of a solution. Dijkgraaf and his colleagues at UMC now think they have found one in the form of smart lighting outfitted with radio chips that keep track of where the goods are.

In March of this year, UMC began running a proof-of-concept trial, clearing patients from one floor in a wing where it put radio tracker tags on hospital equipment that stayed in touch with radio-enabled lights. The trial covered about 1500m2, including 15 patient rooms of different sizes, as well as multiple treatment rooms, exam rooms, common rooms, and storage closets. The hospital lit the space with about 50–100 Koopmand Interlight LED luminaires equipped with chips from Amsterdam-based smart lighting startup, Igny.

The communication between the roaming assets and the fixed-point lights pinpointed the asset’s location, which the luminaires then transmitted wirelessly to an information technology gateway wired to the hospital’s IT network, overseen by systems integrator Fujitsu.

An Ingy asset tracking tag (the gray box in the middle) attached to this incubator helps to track the equipment’s movement around the hospital.

Central staff was then able to check the system to spot the whereabouts of a missing item. System users can access the asset tracking functions via a smartphone app. The idea was that support staff could find the items and put them back in their proper place, such as a designated storeroom or cupboard, where doctors, nurses, and medical technicians would easily find them. UMC vacated the area of any clinical operations because it also needed to check the possibility that the radio communications would interfere with electronic medical equipment.

With the trial having run for a few months now, the verdict is in.

“It’s been great,” said Dijkgraaf. “You can get the status of medical equipment. We know if it’s available, if it’s maintained, if it’s in stock. It all helps the staff in the hospital to use the equipment in a timely manner.”

The lighting-based asset tracking system represents a huge improvement over previous methods that relied on manual data entry into a facilities management system, and on, as Dijkgraaf described it, “generating lists and walking around making lots of phone calls.”

The trial also showed promise beyond asset tracking, as the smart lights were fitted with sensors feeding occupancy data back to the facilities management team, which could analyze how well a particular room or area is being utilized — potentially a huge benefit in the sprawling complex full of patient rooms, treatment rooms, classrooms, conference areas, and so forth. Other light-embedded sensors provided air quality measurements. And the lights also delivered indoor navigation to help direct staff or visitors to a pinpoint location within the facility. They helped staff initiate actions such as ordering a cleaner or requesting a bed.

Going live

With the positive findings from the pilot, as this story was going to press, UMC was setting up additional pilots of the smart lighting system, according to UMC facility management project director Wiko Lamain, noting that the next trials would be within clinical areas of the hospital, not just in a cleared-out test area.

“It’s quite a big hospital, and sometimes it’s quite difficult to find one or two instruments to maintain them or to use them,” said an optimistic Lamain. “This will make it easier for nurses or medical engineers to do their work.”

Using network-linked radio chips and sensors to make it easier for medical workers to get on with their jobs certainly sounds like a good idea. But it also sounds like the purview of an IT company rather than of a lighting company.

And, in the case of UMC Utrecht, it is. The main contractor on the job is Fujitsu, which is ultimately responsible for the hospital’s core network and database. But it is notable that Fujitsu — working with subcontractor Ingy — chose to use the lighting infrastructure to house many of the system’s chips and sensors.

While some of the chips and sensors will indeed reside outside of the lighting, many of them will be embedded inside the luminaires, where they can draw on the same electricity supply that powers the luminaire rather than rely on problematic batteries, Fujitsu’s Dennis van Doorn explained. Ceiling luminaires also provide ready-made dense coverage of the hospital area, added van Doorn, who is marketing manager for wireless solutions at Fujitsu Components Europe.

Information on an item’s whereabouts at UMC can be pinpointed on a smartphone app.

That all makes eminent sense to the hospital. “It’s quite simple,” said Lamain. “If we use sensors on batteries, we have to change all the batteries every couple of years and it will take up a lot of time as well. By combining it with the lights, we have sensors, and we have coverage all over the hospital.”

Ingy CEO Bastiaan de Groot put another perspective on it, noting that without using the lights to house beacons, each room would need an independently-mounted, battery-powered beacon. And if the medical center wishes to fully outfit its patient facilities, it would need 70,000 such beacons across its 70,000 rooms. “And that,” noted de Groot, “would screw up the business case.”

“We have 550,000m2, divided over multiple buildings,” added UMC’s Dijkgraaf. “It’s quite a complex environment to install any equipment, so if we can install lights and do asset tracking with them, it seems very interesting.”

Lighting meets information technology

The cooperation between Fujitsu and Ingy is one way in which the lighting industry and IT industry might relate to each other as each chases what could be a bonanza in making buildings smart. As the lighting industry tries to morph into playing the role of IT provider — such as what Gooee is doing with as many as 5,000 buildings in Holland — it will find itself both competing with and, as in the case of Ingy at UMC, cooperating with the IT industry.

In fact, Ingy’s general business strategy calls for partnering with data and IT companies that can handle the analytics of data collected by the smart lighting equipment provided by Ingy. Ingy’s two-part modus operandi is to help luminaire companies such as Koopman sell Ingy-equipped LED luminaires that make a facility ready-to-go as a smart building if and when the building operator decides to go that way. Ingy hopes to sell the smart building portion directly as a service, once the customer decides to switch on the intelligent features.

The partnership with Fujitsu at UMC came about when both Ingy and Fujitsu were pitching separate projects that shared a common thread. Ingy was talking to UMC about upgrading its lighting to smart-ready luminaires, while Fujitsu was simultaneously pitching asset tracking to the hospital.

“We at Ingy were already talking to the facility maintenance guys about replacing the lighting and making it IoT ready, while at the same time Fujitsu was already talking to the IT guys,” Ingy’s de Groot recalled. “Dennis [van Doorn] and I knew each other. We brought the IT departments and the lighting department together. I think it’s safe to say that the IT people barely knew the people that would normally talk about lighting. It took a while to connect the two departments, but Dennis and I made the introductions.”

Wirepas wireless protocol

The alliance between Ingy and Fujitsu was also a natural one in the sense that both de Groot and van Doorn are enthusiasts of Wirepas, the proprietary wireless mess protocol that De Groot has praised for its ability to scale up across thousands of lights, and also for its ability to handle multiple functions, including asset tracking. Wirepas uses Bluetooth radio chips designed by semiconductor company Nordic, but applies an entirely different and proprietary protocol for mesh networking compared to Bluetooth mesh. Wirepas is the mesh technology that security giant Securitas is using at a life sciences research park in Sweden, as LEDs Magazine featured in their last issue. At UMC, some of the functions are straight-up Bluetooth, such as indoor navigation which uses Bluetooth beacons, and wireless wall switches which are EnOcean Bluetooth products.

While radio chips and sensors will generally reside in the LED luminaires, sometimes UMC will mount them independent of the lights, such as this ceiling-mounted beacon from Ingy.

“That’s how Bastiaan and I know each other,” said van Doorn. “We are both in this ecosystem around Wirepas.”

Now the two vendors are in a business relationship in which UMC pays Fujitsu as the main IT contractor, and Fujitsu pays Ingy a service fee for collecting data that supports asset tracking as well as indoor navigation, occupancy analytics, air quality, and task requests such as calling for a cleaner. While Ingy embeds the radio chips and sensors in Koopman lights, in some instances at the hospital it will mount them outside of the lights, such as in operating rooms and quarantine areas where the hospital maintenance team might not want to mess with lighting.

The hospital purchases the luminaires straight from Koopman but pays a service fee to Fujitsu once it starts using the IT features of luminaires.

Ingy itself does not handle the analytics, which sometimes happens in the cloud and sometimes within a closed UMC system. In cases where it goes to the cloud, Systematic handles asset tracking and task management data, and Gooee handles climate monitoring and occupancy analytics. The data is owned by UMC.

What really matters is the benefit to UMC, which sees plenty of potential. For instance, Dijkgraaf estimates that the hospital will cut down on purchases of new infusion pumps by 20% not only because it will be able to better locate them, but it will also avoid purchases to replace pumps for which maintenance records have become unreliable.

Patients should also benefit. “When we get a child in in the middle of the night, you want to find a junior bed, and you don’t want to have to look for it,” said Lamain. “You want to know exactly where the nearest available bed is.”

The same applies for infusion pumps, blood pressure monitors, and all those other things that go missing, sometimes because staff members hide them way. Soon the nurses, technicians and doctors won’t have to peek behind ceiling panels. They can simply look to the lights.


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Keep up to date, by checking from time to time to see if any new entries have been added.

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Southern Star Computers advised on what system to use.  They have provided us with our own Cloud Based webserver which meets all of our requires and is 100% secure.

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