Whether it is coaxing people out at night to socialise or showing off city landmarks, engineers say advances in lighting technology can switch Auckland's mood from gloom to boom.
Philips Electronics says in a submission to the draft Auckland Plan that lighting can dramatically improve the quality of urban living.
The international company's senior vice-president for emerging markets, Olivier Piccolin, said modern lighting lifted shared public spaces, made people feel safer and used electricity more efficiently.
Referring to company projects, Mr Piccolin said the Auckland Museum's 80th birthday present - an array of changeable LED coloured lights - was an example of lighting up landmarks to celebrate a city's identity.
The company also lit Newmarket Station, the Sky Tower and, at Eden Park, provided the floodlights and the LED facade on the new South Stand.
Modern lighting created lively spaces which discouraged crime and encouraged people to go out after dark to socialise, Mr Piccolin said.
Lighting was 40 per cent of most councils' energy costs and could be halved by switching to new energy-efficient products, he said. The savings paid for an improved system.
In a street-lighting trial at West Hoe Rd in Orewa, Philips had replaced existing yellow lights with its SpeedStar LED product, which had controls to dim the lights during the night when there was less traffic.
Now, even with the lights on half-power, users of the street could see the green of the grass verge and had better visibility of the roadway and footpaths.
More than 95 per cent of residents surveyed after the trial said they felt safer at any time of the night.
The former Waitakere City Council found fewer intersection accidents with the white light.