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Smart Street Lighting is Creating the Infrastructure for Cities of the Future

smart street lightingAs cities grow, smart street lighting will play an important role.  According to the United Nations, 68% of the world population is projected to live in urban areas by 2050. North America, one of the most urbanized regions of the world, had 82% of its population living in urban areas in 2018.

To support this growing and concentrated population, cities need to forge new systems and services that can provide a high-quality of life for residents as well as support the safety, operational efficiency and sustainability requirements of the city. The digital transformation of city services is critical and a connected city-wide infrastructure that is standards-based and flexible will enable this digital transformation.

Developing a new infrastructure or updating an existing one can be expensive and disruptive. It is essential to identify a primary smart city application that can reap financial and operational benefits quickly while simultaneously creating the underlying infrastructure for future applications. Smart street lighting does that. It leverages a municipality-wide connected network infrastructure and saves energy, improves public safety, and creates operational efficiencies while creating a foundation for additional smart city applications in the future.

Smart Street Lighting: An Anchor Application

Smart street lighting is an ideal starting point for rolling out smart city applications because energy savings and operational efficiencies are significant and immediate. According to Itron, a global leader in innovating the way utilities and cities manage energy and water, smart street lighting offers up to 50%  energy savings and 20% operational savings.  It is an anchor application that unlocks efficiencies and demonstrates platform value immediately. And, it can offer revenue-grade power metering measuring energy usage to +/-2% accuracy.

Benefits of Smart Street Lighting

Historically, street lights have been considered a means to illuminating roadways and nothing more. Today, street lights are considered strategic assets.  Using integrated sensing technology, smart street lights can track the energy usage of each street light on the network and automate light levels based on activity in the area. The system is also notified when lights go out, whether due to weather conditions, product end of life or copper wire theft, eliminating the number of service calls reporting outages. With additional sensor integration, street lighting can track environmental conditions such as CO2 levels, monitor traffic flow, identify collisions and other safety concerns as they occur, and much more.

  • Supports Sustainability - A pillar of smart cities is sustainability.  Smart street lighting reduces energy waste, but also generates insights from the data collected that can help validate criteria for green initiatives and sustainability goals. Converting traditional street lights to smart street lights greatly cuts energy use by 50% or more, a dramatic savings for the municipality and taxpayers.
  • Improves Public Safety - Sensor-laden street lights can improve public safety.  Automated lighting adjustments that brighten or dim lights depending on natural light levels, weather conditions, or population in the area, improve visibility for pedestrians and cyclists and helps reduce accidents and crime.  Data gathered on accidents and near misses can identify what intersections are the most dangerous and need redesign.  Applications that monitor temperature, humidity and air quality can be integrated into the system as well.  Gas leaks, earthquakes, gun shots, and other dangerous situations can be identified quickly to improve public safety response times.
  • Enhance Operational Efficiencies - Operational efficiencies are enhanced by instituting a preventive maintenance program for street lights. Maintenance programs proactively identify lamp and power supply failures, that in turn reduce truck rolls, customer service calls and the related costs.   A revenue-grade power metering solution senses and communicates fixture-level operating and diagnostics data, including temperature profile, operating hours, and power consumption. By automating management and delivering more precise outage information, networked street lighting can increase operational savings by reducing the need for truck rolls and mobile crews.
  • Potential Utility Rebates - Utility companies offer significant rebates for energy reduction but require data to validate energy savings. Smart street light applications can provide the data needed for rebates and incentives from utility companies resulting in potential additional savings to taxpayers.

Innovation, urbanization and the growing need for energy efficient solutions is fueling the rise of smart cities. Smart street lights’ location, power and ubiquity make them the perfect conduit for providing smart city services.

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Topics: Connected Lighting & IoT