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Analyzing the social impact
of light installations

Sentiment and impact analysis

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Which public lighting projects do citizens love best?

Marlyn Zelkowitz
SAP Future Cities + IoT, Global Director
Jonathan Weinert
Lighting IoT, Philips Lighting
November 13th 2017

It’s no secret that public lighting installations can have a meaningful effect on cities that reaches far beyond the purpose of simply providing light. They can also have a positive impact on economic development, neighborhood revitalization, tourism, and community pride.

 

Just how much impact? A study commissioned by Philips Lighting in 2016 put some numbers around the economic and social influence of four of its dynamic lighting installations in the US. The Bay Lights, which turned the entire side of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge into an enormous white-light video screen, contributed nearly US$18 million to San Francisco County in its first years of operation. That figure includes payroll for more than 80 jobs created by the project, contributions to the San Francisco gross regional product of over US$10 million, and state and local taxes totaling almost US$600,000. Restaurants and bars with a view of the bridge reported business increases of as much as 30% since the lights went up.

 

While such economic figures offer compelling proof points, city leaders also care about citizen sentiment. To that end, the organizations responsible for the installations examined in the study turned to social media and other forms of outreach to create excitement around the projects and highlight their benefits to the community. To promote River Lights in the Rock, a project that lit three bridges over the Arkansas River in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, with thousands of color-changing LED lights, the city’s visitors bureau used a range of social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Google Images.

 

Social outreach delivered results: the project garnered two of the top five posts for the year, with a reach of over 90,000. But this number tells an incomplete story. City leaders need to find ways to more precisely evaluate the social impact of illuminating city landmarks to understand how it affects citizen sentiment in detail.

 

With this need in mind, Philips Lighting and SAP SE partnered to create the social impact analytics app. The app merges image analytics developed by Philips Lighting with the SAP Cloud Platform. The image analytics identifies photos of landmark architectural lighting installations on social platforms such as Instagram, while the SAP platform collates data on social media and news coverage of a given piece of architecture.

 

The app makes good on the power of analytics and data mining by producing a set of metrics that accurately measures public sentiment about specific architectural lighting projects. Contextualizing social media posts via the app promises to give city leaders a way of quantifying the cultural and economic impact of dynamically lit architecture.

By providing insights that help city leaders better understand citizen sentiment, the partnership creates a platform for smart city innovation. Data from the app can help city authorities identify the most popular lighting displays and refine lighting strategies to best meet the needs of the local community.

 

For more information on SAP solutions for cities, please visit www.sap.com/industries/public-sector-government

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