Urban Lighting Labs – a Citizen Science Approach
Urban Lighting Labs (ULLs) have been established in one selected district of each of the three ENLIGHTENme cities. Each district has been chosen due to their particular vulnerability in terms of urban, lighting and socio-economic conditions.
Through the ULLs, citizens are actively involved in generating new knowledge and understanding with genuine science outcomes regarding the relationships between urban lighting, health and wellbeing. The ULLs support this citizen science approach and bring together citizens and local stakeholders, as well as city officials, before, during and after the installation of the new lighting systems.
Citizens are involved in many types of different activities, including:
- Discussions and public events such as night walks to build public engagement and understanding of light and health issues, and build community networks. ULLs also provide fora in which community stakeholders can engage with each other, experts from the project and policy makers from their city.
- Interviews, focus groups and panels for periodic interviews to carry out research throughout the intervention period.
- Discussion groups, workshops and public consultations to provide organisational bases for co-design with stakeholders and display of design ideas for innovative lighting implementations. Central to this process are two main kinds of workshops:
- innovative co-mapping through district community ‘night walks’, urban audits, ‘guerrilla lighting’ and interactive lighting installations in local streets and public spaces.
- lighting solutions workshop during which the community will be introduced to different kinds of interventions, helping to tailor such solutions in their own district and homes using visualisations, prototypes and simulations.
Who ENLIGHTENme works with
The ENLIGHTENme research focusses on older adults, aged 65 or older. This is linked to the overall aim to improve older adults’ health and wellbeing in European cities by addressing public policies related to indoor and outdoor lighting.
Inappropriate and disruptive light exposure at night or too little time during the day can profoundly affect people’s biological clock, health and wellbeing, and thus impact on epigenetics and metabolism predisposing to diseases including cancer, neurodegeneration, and psychological wellbeing.
Certain population groups, such as older adults, are particularly affected by inappropriate light exposure. They may need more light during the day than they currently are exposed to and yet they are more sensitive to glare, so a better designed 24h lighting scheme is needed for this specific group. It has also been observed that older adults are more prone to insomnia-related symptoms and the ENLIGHTENme research strives to reduce such symptoms.
Lighting also shapes urban spaces and social life, whether at home or in public spaces, thus affecting people’s behaviour, moods, and sense of security as well as social relationships. It can increase citizens’ sense of trust towards the city and the people who inhabit it, thus encouraging people to remain and to interact with each other, as well as promoting socialisation within the urban community. In this respect, lighting disproportionately impacts older adults’ lives in terms of access to public space and participation in civic life, and through the quality of indoor spaces in which they spend more time than other demographics.