Zilverackers - stakeholder acceptance testing
Testing the acceptance of a lighting solution designed by THE LUX LAB for an ecological zone with various stakeholders and the municipality of Veldhoven.
With the extended possibilities that led offers, in combination with smart diming schemes, new opportunities arise to further reduce energy use and light pollution, and, at the same time, increase people's sense of perceived personal safety and comfort. Municipalities aim to implement such solutions, but little is known about their acceptance by the general public, nor the effects on perceived safety and comfort.
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Testing with a demonstrator
The municipality of Veldhoven, the Netherlands, asked THE LUX LAB to design a smart lighting solution for a bicycle path that runs through an ecological zone. The proposed solution aims to use different lighting settings (varying in colour and intensity) at different times to accomodate different stakeholders.
In the early evening the path is intensively used by commuters, particularly children heading home. This is why lighting was placed in that zone in the first place. Cyclists feelings of safety and comfort are increased with more light, as people need more light when dusk is setting. Later in the evening, as traffic eases the light dims to a light that is less disturbing for animals and plants, but still provides good visibility for cyclists. The yellowish light offers good visibility at significant lower energy use caused by led efficiency in such colour range combined with high sensitivity of people's eyes to these wavelenghts. During the night as there is hardly any traffic the wild life becomes the most important stakeholder. Therefor, the light is dimmed to the equivalent of full moonlight, which does not disturb animals and at the same time requires significantly less energy while stays aesthetically pleasing. In the morning bright cool white light is used to increase the alertness of the cyclists.
The proposed solution differs from traditional lighting installations as it aims not just to reduce the energy use but at the same time to increase life quality in the ecological zone while not sacrificing safety of the road users. The role of the designer is to understand the needs and requirements from the various stakeholders, and to integrate seemingly opposing needs into a solution that is attractive, or at least acceptable, to them. The difficulty in these kinds of projects is that the solution is very different from what is currently available, so for the stakeholders to be able to judge the concept they will have to be able to imagine it. Moreover, to address issues like perceived safety and comfort means that potential users should be able to assess the intangible values of the concept.
Testing traditional lighting for public spaces involves comparison of different lamp types or lighting settings for a similar purpose. In this case, as the different light settings were part of the same concept we knew that some conditions, like night setting, would be perceived as less safe due to its low luminance. So, the question was not which of these settings would be preferred but whether using different settings over the course of the night is acceptable for different stakeholders. Furthermore, we wanted to know if such people knowing that such lighting aims to accommodate flora and fauna in the ecological zone would influence their acceptance.

Research results
A paper on the research with the demonstrator was presented at the Experiencing Light Conference in November 2012.

Click on the link to download the paper in PDF format:
Interactive questionnaire
For the first iteration a demonstrator was created which was then shown at the Liberation of Light exhibition. In the demonstrator the different lighting settings were presented in darkened corridors. This allowed people to experience the lighting levels and assess the concept. The demonstrator was used to collect feedback from the general public using an interactive questionnaire. The questionnaire measured the light setting preference and perceived level of safety for the general public. Visitors to the exhibition were asked to complete a short questionnaire after exiting the experiment area. After answering a set of questions regarding the preference for each separate light setting, participants were asked to rate the light settings with relation to their feelings of saftey by using the VERO tool. In short, participants were asked to drag each light setting onto a circle. The closer a given lighting design was placed to the centre of the circle the higher was the level of perceived safety. Additional measurements for age, gender and frequency of bicycle usage were used.
Stakeholders workshops
In the first step a map was made of the relevant stakeholders. Workshops with different stakeholders were organised to collect feedback from multiple points of view and to facilitate an elaborate discussion on the validity of the lighting solution in the surroundings of an ecological zone. These stakeholders included the municipality, people living in the neighborhood, local polie, an environmental organisation and also other users: school children, athletes who use the path for their weekly running exercise and elderly.
The tests with the demonstrator revealed that the stakeholders and the general public were fairly positive to the concept as a whole. Although the experimental set-up was not similar to a realistic outdoor situation, the fact that people could experience the light settings give rise to interesting discussions on the different stakeholder perspectives. The workshops proved to be a strong element in building commitment from Indal to invest in the production of specific prototypes for the next iteration.
Testing with prototypes on site
During the summer of 2012, the five prototypes were installed near the final location to conduct tests with stakeholders in a realistic situation. Tests have been done in Oktober 2012. We wanted to measure the acceptance of the concept by the people living in the neighbourhood. However, we could let them spend the entire night at Zilverackers to get the full experience of the different scenes. Therefor we choose an experimental set up on the location in which people are experiencing 2 scenes of the lighting concept. After the test with these 2 scenes we explain them that the concept consists of 4 scenes and we ask them if the lighting concept is, in their perception, acceptable. Half of the participants are provided with knowledge on the ecological objectives of the concept, the other half is not given any further information. We were also interested in the perception of lighting scenes to be able to explain the level of acceptance. People's perception of lighting is built up of their visibility capacity and their personal experience. In each lighting scene we measure the visibility capacity in 3 standardized ways: Visual acuity (Landot ring), Contrast threshold (Pelli-Robson) and Colour identification. And we measure the personal experience in 3 ways: Feeling of safety and comfort through a questionnaire on experience with open questions, Scaling questions on comfortable/uncomfortable, on safe/unsafe feeling, and open questions on characteristics of comfort and safety, and a Questionnaire on actual behaviour (what would you do if ...)
Research results
Click on the link to download the research report in pdf format:
  Zilverackers Research Results.pdf
The positive expressions of the participants and discussions with the stakeholders were convincing enough for the full investment to install the solution on site. In summer 2013 the system became fully operational.

This project was done in collaboration with THE LUX LAB, Indal, municipality of Eindhoven, and the municipality of Veldhoven.
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