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How LEDs make parks and recreation facilities safer and smarter

Nov 07, 2017

Do you remember a time when you showed up to a rec game or took your kids to soccer practice, but the soccer field lights were off? And even after being turned on, the lights still needed half an hour to reach full brightness? That’s because many recreational fields still use legacy metal halide lights, which take time to warm up. The delay in lighting can cause disruptions in game schedules and create frustration among participants and spectators. Poor lighting also decreases parks’ overall safety.

With quality of life in mind, cities like New York, Los Angeles and Santa Fe have switched to light-emitting diode (LED) systems for better lit fields, providing increased safety and visibility for athletes and fans. Many have also added smart sensors to capture information for planning and safety purposes.

We recently spoke with Mike Lorenz, president of Eaton’s Ephesus Lighting, about how municipalities that invest in LED systems are protecting their constituents’ interest and planning for the future.


Safety is top-of-mind when it comes to upgrading a city’s lighting systems. Not only is it important for residents to have high visibility of the recreational area, but it’s also essential for the athletes and people using the fields. Lighting controls and motion detectors create a safe and well-lit area for everyone’s peace of mind.

Systems like the one developed by Eaton’s Ephesus Lighting feature an instant-on capability, meaning lights immediately reach full brightness at the push of a button. The lighting minimizes unwanted light spill and sky glow to produce an evenly illuminated playing field, where players have optimum visibility during games and neighbors aren’t distracted by unwanted glare.

LED lighting systems also have the ability to turn on and off using motion sensors, so park users feel safe and sound during dimmer or darker times. Cities like Los Angeles have also added gunshot detection sensors to these LED light poles in high-crime areas. The gunshot sensors can quickly relay the information to 911 call centers for faster police response, which has helped in addressing city concerns.


As the demographics and demands change, LED systems can be adapted to complement city processes and improve the resident experience with smart, connected lighting. For instance, municipalities will be able to rent recreational fields to users who can then manage the park’s lighting from their phone and illuminate specific areas rather than the entire complex.

Not only will lighting controls be more convenient, but LED systems will become an input source for information. Its sensors can detect and track pedestrian and vehicular traffic, noises that present a threat to public safety, air pollution and natural disasters like earthquakes. Places like Los Angeles are even merging LED lights with 4G LTE wireless technology to give residents improved cell service coverage.

Energy efficiency

Although the upfront cost of switching to LED systems may be relatively higher than other options, the combination of energy savings and reduced maintenance costs help most municipalities see a return on investment in less than 10 years. Most companies and local municipalities offer rebate incentives for switching to the more energy-efficient LED technology.

Unlike metal halide fixtures, LEDs have no bulbs or ballasts to replace, and systems typically last for 25 years, even in extreme temperatures. The longer-lasting system helps cities reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption by anywhere from 50 to 75 percent when compared to traditional lighting methods.

Implementing LEDs into city-wide recreation facilities and other initiatives keeps public safety a priority while saving energy and adapting to the future of IoT technology. Cities will soon have automated data on hand to help urban planning and development.

“The world is evolving faster than it’s possible to keep up with,” Lorenz said. “It’s important to have fundamental lighting interests and assets that accommodate these changes with constituents’ interests in mind.”

Sources: Parks & Rec Business, Ephesus Lighting, StateTech, DAWN, Computer World


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