Often referred to as a Wonder of the World, Niagara Falls is a breath-taking collection of three individual waterfalls; the American Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and the largest of the trio, the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Attracting millions of visitors each year, the waterfalls bridge the border between the aptly named cities, Niagara Falls, NY and Niagara Falls, Ontario. Niagara Falls brings together natural beauty, flora and fauna, with a host of attractions, hotels and restaurants that have entertained families for decades.
During hours of darkness the waterfalls are illuminated with a vast array of colored lights, adding a beautiful aura to the water. These illuminations have been in situ for decades using various technologies from pyrotechnics to carbon arc search lamps to Zenon, and three years ago were upgraded to LED. Most recently Pharos Architectural Controls was appointed to deliver a new control system for The Falls’ lights. Pharos’ system offers fresh lighting content, greater flexibility for developing new design concepts, and remote management in the cloud.
Pharos supplied an LPC 4 that controls both the American and Canadian sides of The Falls. While this unit is compact, its capabilities rival that of a bigger unit, delivering cutting-edge control. 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 — and SixEye. The SixEye platform manages the Pharos and Pathway systems in the Cloud, with all three elements working together and integrating seamlessly. This unique collaboration of technology has provided a real opportunity to offer bespoke features such as kiosks allowing the public to interact with the system, yet it’s backed by advanced functionality allowing flexible design capabilities.
Using the SixEye platform, controls can be accessed, lighting can be scheduled remotely and notifications are sent identifying any system problems. The complete system also offers a broad new tool set, bringing ease of use and next-level system management. The content can be synchronized on both sides of The Falls, with three modes of operation: The Niagara Falls’ team host the public to interact on the touchscreens, or they can program unique settings for special occasions and holidays on the fly, or leave the system to run fully automated, usually between midnight and 2 AM.
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.
Linus Mac Donald, lighting consultant for The Niagara Falls Illumination Board, said: “Niagara Falls has been lit for many years, which adds to its beauty during the hours of darkness. Our Toronto-based programmer Slobodan Marin, has commented how quickly he is able to program stunning looks using Pharos and how easily he can make small tweaks to the program from home then easily upload using SixEye without being on site. The collaboration between Pathway, SixEye and Pharos has been phenomenal; not only did their teams work together in a model way, the results are everything we could have hoped for.”
Director of Product Market for Pathway Connectivity Solutions, Robert Bell, said: “It’s remarkable how easily our network, Pharos’ control and SixEye’s cloud have integrated to make an incredibly robust system that I can easily manage from my phone – anywhere. This combination of technologies has delivered a set of unique capabilities, that we know offers a wealth of benefits to The Falls and its many visitors.”
Thomas Ladd, international sales director for Pharos Architectural Controls added: “Working on the Niagara Falls project has been fantastic. With hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, it is a real boost for the Pharos team to know that they have played an integral role in the lighting for such a visually spectacular tourist attraction.”
The project has been a huge success, offering a wealth of new features to ensure improved control and design flexibility for The Falls. As such an important landmark for both the US and Canada, The Falls need to have the most up-to-date, technologically advanced systems to deliver unparalleled visual effects for visitors.
Lighting Control System – Pharos Architectural Controls
Robert Bell of Pathway Connectivity – Network and SixEye integration
Jack Neil of SixEye – Cloud support
Scott Cain of Pharos – Touchscreen Designer
Linus Mac Donald – Lighting Consultant for NFIB
Slobadan Marin – Programmer
Network – Pathway Connectivity VIA switches and Pathport Gateway
Backup – Pathway Connectivity Vignette
Photography - Niagara Falls Illumination Board