All around the world, cities rely on streetlights to keep citizens safe and enable commerce to a hum along well into the night. These fixtures are expected to provide illumination in even the most challenging conditions and work without regular maintenance, often for years at a time. The massive scale of this infrastructure means that recent innovations have the potential to radically shift costs and improve efficiency for the public and private spheres.
New smart streetlight technology combines LED and communications technology to create a smart network of fixtures that can be monitored, adjusted, and automated in real time. Smart streetlights use nodes mounted at the top to build large mesh networks, turning these streetlights into active connection points for cities. Smart streetlights not only communicate with each other, but their superior LED lighting uses much less energy than traditional lighting options. And that’s just the beginning.
AT&T recently partnered with GE to debut and install smart streetlights in San Diego that will be able to improve traffic circulation, monitor air quality, locate available parking spots, and even detect gunshots! These 14,000 fixtures are expected to save the city over $2.4 million in annual energy costs.
But streetlight renovation projects are far from straightforward. These programs require a high level of communication and collaboration because the streetlights in a single area often have several different owners, including the city, municipality, utility provider, HOA, or a private business.
This phase of installation is extremely complicated and often takes months to complete. One reason is that auditing the grid is a time-consuming process. Streetlights, unlike most residential and civic projects, do not have assigned addresses. This means that lighting companies must use a combination of GPS mapping and area photography to determine the latitude and longitude of the fixtures that need to be updated.
This is a time-consuming process that requires all involved stakeholders to be on the same page. The payoff can be tremendous though. Once the grid has been properly mapped, there is no more guesswork involved for future updates or renovations! One example of an extremely successful such project was the renovation of the lighting in El Paso, Texas.
In 2012, after nearly four years of planning with the City of El Paso, Texas, Facility Solutions Group (FSG) started work on the largest streetlight project in America. This project covered over 18,000 fixtures and required significant investments in GPS mapping and documentation software. Many streetlights were not metered at all, and other were completely broken. This made determining the size of the project very difficult. Using cell phones, tablets, computers, and aerial photography, FSG was able to create a comprehensive map of all the lights in El Paso. This allowed for a detailed and transparent overview of exactly how the grid was working.
The new lights and software are easy to adjust, come with built-in notifications about outages, and are easily controlled. For example, during times of low traffic, these lights can be dimmed to save energy. FSG’s vertical integration of lighting, electrical construction, energy management, technological services, and signage solutions help make the installation and maintenance of this system much simpler than with multiple vendors.
Upgrading streetlight technology is a great move for any city that wants to save energy, reduce costs, and implement IOT level insight and adjustments. Smartlights are the future, and it is extremely probable that these intelligent systems with big savings will prove attractive to many more cities.
To a watch a video about the City of El Paso Streetlight Project, click the link below.
Check out the complete Project Profile video