ENLIGHTENme strives to improve the health and wellbeing of urban citizens in European cities through adequate and enhanced public indoor and outdoor lighting.
The ENLIGHTENme project aims to advance the understanding of how indoor and outdoor lighting affects health and wellbeing, particularly in elderly populations. It will develop innovative, evidence-based guidelines and policies for measures, technologies, and interventions that can be implemented with a dedicated Decision Support System to help both citizens and city leaders improve public health and wellbeing.
With a growing world population and rising urbanisation comes an underestimated by-product: more human exposure to electric light. This includes public outdoor lighting and the artificial glow created by highly urbanised areas, but also light exposure at the individual level from interior lighting in buildings and light-emitting screens. Inappropriate and disruptive light exposure at night, or too little light exposure during the day, profoundly affects people’s biological clock, health and wellbeing. Older adults over 65 years of age are particularly prone to these impacts. Knowledge about the role lighting has on people’s health and new responsive guidance for urban lighting strategies have the potential to substantially mitigate any possible impacts.
ENLIGHTENme brings together experts from different scientific fields and sectors, such as urban development and health research for four years to collect evidence about indoor and outdoor lighting impacts on human health and wellbeing – particularly for people over the age of 65 and other vulnerable groups. The project aims to research, develop and validate innovative solutions that will guide innovative urban lighting policies for better health in cities throughout Europe.
Applying a transdisciplinary approach, ENLIGHTENme examines the correlations between health, wellbeing, lighting and socio-economic factors, using a population-based medical trial and qualitative field work in three European cities: Bologna (Italy), Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and Tartu (Estonia). It combines expertise from various fields and thematic areas, including clinical and biomedical sciences, ethics and Responsible Research & Innovation (RRI), urban planning and architecture, data accessibility and interoperability, as well as social sciences and economics.
An ‘Urban Lighting and Health Atlas’ will anchor the research scope by collecting, systematising, and presenting existing data and good practices on urban lighting in a user-friendly online platform. In addition to the population-based medical trials, Urban Lighting Labs will be established in each ENLIGHTENme City to provide a place-based co-creation space to engage with citizens and city leaders to learn about co-design, and assess lighting interventions that can impact health and wellbeing. The interventions and findings from both research applications will be reviewed and validated by three advisory boards (Scientific Advisory Board, Health and Urban Lighting Advisory Board and Board of Lighting Companies), and will serve as the empirical foundation for better guidance and decision-making for improved public health and wellbeing. The practical tools developed by ENLIGHTENme will allow for identifying priorities in urban lighting design according to local population needs, inequalities and light exposure levels as well as comparing the impacts of different lighting scenarios and defining the technical requirements for innovative urban lighting policies for better health and wellbeing.
ENLIGHTENme aims to produce inter-disciplinary research that links the multiple interconnected impacts of lighting and builds a rich evidence base for public policy and lighting guidelines. This includes both, large-scale studies of the impact of lighting parameters on wellbeing and participatory social research and co-design in the same three cities, allowing for the development, testing and researching of innovative indoor and outdoor lighting interventions. Both lighting research and innovations can be translated into guidelines for addressing age-related urban lighting issues in a coherent and evidence-based manner. Therefore, ENLIGHTENme aims at connecting lighting policy, technological innovation and their potential consequences on the citizens’ health and wellbeing, thus contributing to the development of smart city policies, by improving its physical and social environments.