Controlling many individual lights

Hello! I’ve been modeling in blender for several years now, but only recently started doing some animation.

This thing I’m currently working on requires controlling hundreds of little lights turning off and on. If I was just doing a couple, I’d merely animate the emission materials as needed. But for something of this scale, having tons of individually animated materials seems rather impractical. They also need to be animated in patterns, which depending on the solution could make it harder or easier.

This is a rough example of what I’m going for in terms of shape and number

Thus far, my attempts at google have resulted in nothing, and so I turn to the ever helpful boards. If any more experienced animators had any tips or recommendations, that would be lovely.

I’m working in Cycles if that matters.