How Smart are Smart City Lights? How Bright is the Opportunity?
Street lighting is fundamental to our urban experience. It has become a focus for urban innovation as lighting networks become a platform for a range of smart city applications.
With street lighting accounting for nearly 40% of many cities’ total energy costs, local governments and utility providers are seeking new ways to decrease energy usage and reduce costs. Switching from halogen to LED lights can help deliver immediate savings of 50% or more, through reduced energy use. Furthermore, integrating those lights with networking and intelligent controls can provide an extra 30% in savings. It can also provide a platform for current and future smart city applications that can enhance public safety, traffic management, health and comfort.
Smart Street Lights Light up a Wide Range of Capabilities
Traffic control: Traffic sensors connected to the street lighting can provide more accurate monitoring of traffic levels, and can help cities better understand traffic patterns, make adjustments, and route emergency-response vehicles around congested areas.
Traffic light controls: Traffic lighting that is adaptive to congestion levels, weather conditions and accidents can improve traffic flow and reduce travel times, fuel consumption, and pollution.
Parking control: Street light sensors can provide information about available parking and monitor vehicles for parking violations.
Crime detection and prevention: Street lights with video cameras can help police in solving crimes after they happen and deter new crimes from occurring. Atlanta, Georgia, has reduced crime by 28% through its use of smart street lights.
Gunshot detection and location: Gunshot detection systems can be deployed on lighting poles and use the network to transmit vital information to the operations center.
Emergency response: Emergency-response operators can activate street lights to help guide emergency workers to specific locations or to indicate emergency evacuation routes during natural disasters.
Environmental monitoring: Connected street lighting poles can provide citywide real-time monitoring capability of toxic chemicals, pollen counts, or air pollution levels.
Warnings and alerts: Speaker-equipped lights can be used to warn people in the vicinity of storms or other dangers.
Public messaging/digital signage: These include public information broadcasts, and dedicated kiosk services.
The case of Los Angeles
Los Angeles, an early adopter of the technology, has reported 63% savings on its energy bill in the first year with the new lights, and it is using the connected poles to solve issues unique to the city, equipping streetlights with sensors that can detect gunshots or other noises that may pose a threat to public safety. City officials are even exploring the idea of expanding this capability to recognize air pollution and earthquakes.
One of the companies offering a platform for lighting systems is CityShob. CityShob’s multi-domain, multi-agency, multi-sensor platform offers advanced safety, security and smart urban management solutions for cities. Its unified solution can also support street light management systems – making cities safer, more livable and resource efficient. CityShob’s street module learns the behavior of the street from various data sources, such as street lighting, cameras and acoustic sensors, and provides a smart, safe and secure solution. Moreover, if there are no people or vehicles on the street at 2 AM, the system reduces the street lighting to 20% and only increases it to 80-100% if the system recognizes a person or vehicle. This provides immediate ROI.
Creating a livable environment for the world’s growing urban population
Cities everywhere are growing. By 2050 about 68% of the total population will be living in urban areas. It is a priority to find solutions to manage costs and logistics, while creating a livable and attractive environment for citizens to live. Smart lighting is one such solution.
With street lights in every neighborhood of every city across the globe, light can be transformed into a tool to improve the livability of an area, increase revenue, citizen satisfaction and safety. Each city has its own priorities opportunities, and challenges regarding street lighting. Street lighting provides flexibility to municipalities as they look to address their local issues and challenges.