The essential importance of light


    April 15, 2020


    Exploring the essential nature of light during the Coronavirus crisis

    In the campaign to defeat COVID-19, governments across the world are rightly prioritizing the supply of personal protective equipment, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and food as ‘essentials’. Next to these though, are other crucial sectors, but there’s a serious risk that some are taken for granted and overlooked. Lighting is one of them.

    When night falls, try reading a book at home with your lights off. In fact, try doing anything with the lights off. Within seconds you’ll realize how we all take light for granted, even though it’s one of those fundamentals, along with air, water, food and warmth. 

    Light is a staple of life
    Artificial light is hugely important in times of crisis. We’ve all heard the expression, “keep the lights on.” It’s a euphemism for keeping things going at a basic or fundamental level. And we need functional lighting to keep hospitals, test facilities, distribution centers, supermarkets and highways running, day and night.

    On the front line

    It’s not just the visual property of light that’s making a difference right now."

    It’s not just the visual property of light that’s making a difference right now. Though few people realize it, Ultra-Violet (UV) radiation is playing a vital role in disinfecting hospitals. It is also being used to disinfect factories, police stations, offices, post offices and schools. UV-C radiation, at the wavelength of 254nm, is known to break down the DNA of bacteria, viruses and mold, rendering them harmless. UV-C is also able to purify air and water.
    BioShift® Pass-Through UV-C Chamber for disinfection

    Signify has increased production of its UV-C lamps, which it supplies to a variety of OEMs. The Signify Foundation is donating UV-C technology to hospitals in China, France, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Philippines, Poland and Spain, with other countries to follow. Systems are being provided that clean and purify the air where COVID-19 infected patients are treated, along with UV-C chambers for disinfecting face masks and other equipment so that they can be reused safely. Mobile units have also been provided for disinfecting surfaces.

    Here are some other ways that light doesn’t just improve quality of life but adds essential value during these difficult times.

    Healthy at home

    With millions of people confined to their homes, the importance of light on our wellbeing shouldn’t be underestimated. Even before this crisis, around 90% of our time was spent indoors with insufficient daylight. Light is essential to our health and wellbeing; it regulates our sleep-wake cycle.
    Healthy at home
    It can also help with our daily routines: from bright functional light to keep you energized and up your concentration level, to warm light that creates a cozy ambiance that helps you to unwind in the evening. Put simply, the right light makes us see, feel and function better.

    Food security

    Another unsung application of light is in food production. Artificial lights make it possible to grow a host of crops in northernly latitude countries, reducing the distance from farm-to-fork and lessening our dependence on carbon-hungry imports. This is changing the way we farm. In days like these, when supply chains are being tested, food security is more important than ever.

    Keeping our streets safe and secure

    Most drivers and pedestrians recognize the requirement for well-lit streets. A fact backed up by studies that reveal good quality street lighting can reduce accidents with injuries by 30%. Yet, well-lit streets don’t just mean safer streets. Any police officer will tell you that light deters crime. Indeed, research shows that improved street lighting can help reduce crimes such as burglary and theft by as much as 21%.

    It’s true, we take lighting for granted. But we shouldn’t; it’s essential to all of us. 

    About the author:

    Harry Verhaar

    Harry Verhaar

    Global Head of Public & Government Affairs, Signify

    For further information, please contact:

    Signify Global Integrated Communications
    Neil Pattie
    Tel: + 31 6 15 08 48 17

    About Signify


    Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) is the world leader in lighting for professionals, consumers and the Internet of Things. Our Philips products, Interact systems and data-enabled services, deliver business value and transform life in homes, buildings and public spaces. In 2023, we had sales of EUR 6.7 billion, approximately 32,000 employees and a presence in over 70 countries. We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We have been in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index since our IPO for seven consecutive years and have achieved the EcoVadis Platinum rating for four consecutive years, placing Signify in the top one percent of companies assessed. News from Signify can be found in the Newsroom, on X, LinkedIn and Instagram. Information for investors is located on the Investor Relations page.

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