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DoE Studies Connected Lighting Interoperability

By Craig DiLouie

Connected lighting, which combines lighting with network interfaces and sensors, promises significant benefits including remote monitoring, high energy savings, and the potential for data that can be used for operations management or improving the energy savings of other building systems.

Lack of native interoperability, however, challenges the technology’s full potential for data collection and participation in the Internet of Things. Devices and systems that are not sufficiently interoperable may not perform well together or be able to exchange and make use of collected data. For its full potential to be achieved, connected lighting systems should be able to easily connect to, and exchange and use data collected by, other devices and systems.

The DoE is currently conducting a series of studies investigating connected lighting system interoperability. The first study, recently published, focused on the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) to facilitate interoperability.

APIs are software designed to allow systems by different manufacturers, or in some cases different solutions by the same manufacturer, to interoperate. While industry organizations are working on approaches to facilitate more native interoperability, these are either nascent or don’t support lighting very well, and in any case are not being used by many lighting manufacturers. At this time, APIs are the mainstay for connected lighting system interoperability.

The DoE looked at APIs in use and how well they enable interoperability, and also explored the potential of a common integration platform. The DoE simulated two use-cases to demonstrate the effort needed to utilize APIs to enable capabilities based on exchanging information. The goal, the study states, is to “support improved interoperability by continuing to investigate approaches to realizing interoperability between connected lighting systems from different providers, as well as between connected lighting and non-lighting systems. Without more effective, efficient, and, ultimately, native interoperability, connected lighting technologies may see limited deployment, unable to go beyond simple connectivity and to fulfill their energy efficiency and transformative potential.”

The DoE found that APIs are complex and may require a significant level of backend integration effort. Ensuring scalability, synchronization, security, and accessibility for maintenance can be challenging. The DoE made multiple recommendations, encouraging developers to make their APIs available and synchronize software updates and documentation. The DoE also suggested that the lighting industry, as well as perhaps the Internet of Things industry, should consider a common authentication approach to promote security against hacking. Further, the DoE recommends that API developers look at ways to reduce the amount of effort needed for system integration.

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Craig DiLouie, LC, principal of Zing Communications (, is a lighting industry journalist, analyst, marketing consultant, and author. Reach him at




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