World Wonder Gets 21st Century Tech Upgrade

CHALLENGE: Upgrade the control system for Niagara Falls.

INFLUENCE: Often referred to as a Wonder of the World, Niagara Falls is actually a collection of three individual waterfalls on both sides of the border. For decades, using technologies, from carbon-arc search lamps to Zenon, the falls have been illuminated; three years ago, the system was upgraded to LED. That said, technology’s continuing advance left the fall’s managers with a desire to implement greater flexibility for both developing new design concepts, as well as remotely managing the control system in the cloud. 

SOLUTION: Pharos Architectural Controls was appointed to deliver a new system for lights, supplying an LPC 4 that controls both sides of the falls. While this unit is compact, its capabilities rival that of a bigger unit, delivering cutting-edge controllability. The LPC 4 is physically located on the Canadian side, and is linked via a fiber network to distribute data to three separate locations in Niagara Falls, Ontario to illuminate all three waterfalls. 

The project was a collaboration between Pharos, Pathway Connectivity—who delivered the data distribution via fiber optics—as well as a new back-up system, the SixEye platform, which manages both systems in the cloud. The collaboration has provided a real opportunity to offer bespoke features, such as kiosks allowing the public to interact with the lighting. Content can be synchronised on both sides, with three modes of operation: public interaction on touchscreens; unique settings for special occasions and holidays on the fly; or fully automated, usually between midnight and 2 a.m. 

This live control is made possible for the team via two touchscreens connected to the lighting system, with interfaces designed by Pharos. They offer the ability to control the falls in real time, with the added benefit of their position being at eye level with the waterfalls which really puts the public in the driver’s seat. After any live changes, the system seamlessly reverts to its normal programming.

According to Linus Mac Donald, lighting consultant for the Niagara Falls Illumination Board, their Toronto-based programmer is able to quickly program stunning looks using Pharos. “He can even make small tweaks to the program from home, then easily upload using SixEye without being on site.”

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Photos © Niagara Falls Illumination Board 

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