Growing urbanization around the world has led to an exponential increase in human exposure to electric light at night. This includes public outdoor illumination and the artificial sky glow created by highly urbanized areas as well as exposure to light at the individual level through domestic lighting and light-emitting screens. The consequences of inappropriate and disruptive light exposure profoundly affect people's health and wellbeing, altering the natural internal biological day/night rhythm.
These effects cannot be overlooked, especially when they affect vulnerable populations like older adults who suffer disproportionately. Light also shapes urban spaces and social life, thus influencing people's behavior, moods, and sense of security, as well as social relationships, easing or hampering socialization and participation in civic life.
Although public awareness of light-related health and wellbeing issues is increasing, there is less understanding of how health impacts derived from urban lighting are mediated by social inequalities present in cities that may determine the kind and amount of light that citizens are exposed to.
"The International Conference 'Shaping light for health and wellbeing in cities' will provide an excellent international forum for sharing knowledge and results on theory, methodology and applications about the multifaceted consequences that light has on health and wellbeing in cities", explains Prof. Simona Tondelli of the Department of Architecture at the University of Bologna and coordinator of the ENLIGHTENme consortium. "The aim of the conference is to provide a platform to researchers and practitioners from academia, local administration as well as industry to meet and share cutting-edge developments in the field".
To this end, the virtual, two-day event intends to explore these issues and calls for contributions from participants in the form of case studies, reviews, or technical papers for the six thematic sessions:
- Session 1: Geo-intelligence and urban analytics for urban wellbeing;
- Session 2: Social lighting and lighting technology for urban wellbeing;
- Session 3: Co-design and community engagement;
- Session 4: The interplay of genes and environment for health, wellbeing, and circadian rhythm;
- Session 5: Innovative urban lighting policies;
- Session 6: Legal and ethical aspects of urban lighting and related health studies.
Besides presenting their research at the conference and being published in the conference proceedings, a selection of researchers will have the opportunity to secure one of the limited spots for having a full article published in a Special Issue in the "Health and Sustainability" section of the Open Access journal Sustainability.
The period for submitting extended abstracts ends on 4 October 2021. Further details on the topics, as well as how to register and submit contributions, can be found on the conference website.
Bringing together experts from different scientific fields and sectors such as urban development and health research, the ENLIGHTENme project aims to collect evidence about the impact outdoor and indoor lighting has on human health - especially in elderly people who are known to be particularly prone to suffer circadian misalignment. Moreover, ENLIGHTENme sets out to develop and test innovative solutions and policies that will offset health inequalities in European cities.