Smart LED Street Lights Are Making It Easier to Report Street Light out and Much More

We are living in a world driven by smart technology. From self-driving cars to smart TVs and refrigerators, everything around us seems to be getting smart. This technology has also extended to public infrastructure in cities. Smart LED street light systems are at the center of this technological transformation.

The global street lighting market is currently undergoing a tremendous shift. Conventional streetlights are getting replaced by new, energy-efficient, and intelligent LED streetlights.

According to persistence market reserch, at the end of the year 2017, the global smart street lighting market was estimated to be valued at nearly $1,000 million. By the end of 2026, it is expected to reach a valuation of around $4,300 million, growing at a CAGR of 17.5% during this time. The growing demand for clean energy, coupled with real-time monitoring of energy consumption, is fueling this tremendous expansion of the global smart street lighting market.

1. Components of a Smart Street System

A smart street light system comprises three fundamental units including lamps with control units and sensors, means of communication, and a central application system. In the case of a primary street light system, the lights turn on as the sun goes down and turn off or reduce power when there is no traffic.

A. Central Monitoring Station (CMS)

The typical CMS consists of a cloud-based interface that you can control using a computer or laptop. It allows you to turn the lights on or off, toggle their controlling parameters, and receive alerts in case of emergencies in real time. The CMS collects real-time operational information, which can be processed to improve the efficiency of the system further.

B. Data Concentrator Unit (DCU)

A Data Concentrator Unit is essentially a communication node or device. Usually, one DCU can exchange data with up to 50 lamp control units. Depending on the location, length, and traffic, however, the number of lamps and streets coming under a DCU may vary. It comprises a modem capable of supporting data management, modulation, and demodulation.

C. Lamp Control Unit (LCU)

A Lamp Control Unit is the smallest component of a smart street light system. Every street light comes with an LCU. Apart from turning the lamps on/off, you can control different parameters such as voltage, current, and brightness using an LCU. An LCU will also alert the CMS in case of mechanical failure.

2. Why Use Smart Street Lights?

Smart street lighting control systems are designed primarily for increased energy efficiency and lowered carbon footprint. However, the benefits they offer stretch well beyond just energy savings and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. They offer a wide range of features that benefit all the stakeholders including city administrations, utility providers, and citizens.

A. Real-Time Maintenance and Repair

Perhaps the most significant benefit of a smart street light system is the ability to repair and maintain the lamps in real time. At some point, you must have called the energy company to bring a broken lamp to their attention. Getting through to their customer service often tests your patience and can lead to sheer frustration.

With a smart street light system in place, you don’t need to report a street light out. The system will automatically send the alert to central command so that authorities can swing into action immediately. This optimized maintenance and repair prevents the unnecessary interruption of traffic or chances of accidents due to invisibility.

Cities can use the data collected from each lamp such as the number of hours the light has operated to calculate its chances of failure. This type of predictive maintenance can save money, time, and resources in the long term.

B. Reduced Energy Costs

Though it may seem obvious, reduced energy cost is the foremost reason why cities want to embrace the smart street lighting solutions. Cities can save up to 50-70% on energy by upgrading to smart and connected LED street lights.

The initial investment in the smart street light network is high. However, the exceptionally high returns can recover the initial investment in 3-4 years. After that, your city can enjoy profits every year. This energy saving can prove useful as most cities are continually expanding in size and population.

C. Increased Lifespan

As there is no real-time monitoring, conventional light technologies often suffer from decreasing quality of light over time. Plus, the frequent fluctuations in voltage and current, and the lack of overall preventive maintenance reduce the lifespan of lamps. However, the use of LED lights along with real-time monitoring such as dimming can increase their lifespan significantly.

Usually, LED lamps have an estimated lifetime ranging anywhere from 35,000 to 502,000 hours, whereas you can expect maximum 24,000 hours of lifespan for High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) bulbs. Add preventive maintenance to this, and you get the most efficient and long-lasting street lighting system out there.

D. Sensor-Based Capabilities

Smart street lights come with plenty of sensor-based capabilities. For example, you can add cameras to these lamps to monitor traffic. You can also use this system to guide emergency-response vehicles such as ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars around congested areas.

Speaker-equipped lights, on the other hand, can be used to alert people in case of emergencies such as upcoming floods or storms. You can also add sensors that can identify the level of air pollution in a particular area. The collected data will help take the right steps to mitigate pollution.

E. Increased Citizen Satisfaction

Smart street lights can also lead to a variety of social benefits. Improved visibility, owing to the real-time monitoring, provides citizens with a safer driving environment. It also leads to a safer environment for pedestrians as the well-lit alleys and streets are less prone to criminal activities.

According to a controlled study in New York City, the increased levels of lighting in nearly 80 public housing developments led to a 7% overall reduction in index crimes that are, a subset of serious offenses such as murder, robbery, aggravated assault as well as a few property crimes. Specifically, at night there was a 39% reduction in these index crimes. It is a benefit that no city administration can overlook.

F. Scalability

Last, but not the least. Smart street light systems are scalable. You can always add more LCUs and DCUs as your city expands. Plus, you can also add sensor-based capabilities mentioned earlier as per your requirements in the future. As a result, many cities have tried these systems on a pilot scale, later expanding them into a citywide network.

3. Cities with Smart Street Lighting Solutions

Building an intelligent network of streetlights is fast becoming a pivotal element in most smart city projects around the globe. In fact, most city administrations began their projects with small intelligent street lighting grids. Today, they have established vast IoT-enabled networks consisting of street lights, security cameras, environmental sensors, and other elements of a smart city.

A. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen is known for its eco-friendly policies. The city has set the ambitious goal of becoming carbon-neutral by the year 2025. As the first step towards this ambitious goal, the city has begun replacing its old street lights with a citywide intelligent street lighting system. They have replaced almost half of their conventional street lighting network with smart lights.

The brightness levels of new LED streetlights are brought back to 100% only as vehicles approach. When there is no traffic, they are lit at half-power to reduce energy consumption and fossil fuel costs. The city aims to upgrade this system to monitor the city traffic and alert the sanitation department to empty the trash cans when they are full.

B. London, UK

The financial district, known as the City of London and the Borough of Barking and Dagenham are planning on connecting 28,000 LED street lights to wireless mesh controls based on Internet protocols. These lights will be eventually used to collect data such as traffic, parking, noise, and air quality. The system will also help monitor the performance of each street light in the network such as remote switching and dimming.

C. Sydney, Australia

Recently, the Sydney harbor foreshore received an upgrade of 40 Smart Node poles across 63 acres. Each Smart Node comprises energy-efficient LED lighting and beacons, general-purpose power points, and electric vehicle charge points. Citizens exploring the Royal Botanic Garden and Domain will also have access to free high-speed Wi-Fi.

D. Wipperfürth, Germany

As the first installment of the Wipperfürth Smart City Project, the city administration installed LED City Light pillars equipped with the Street Light Control system and Einstone technology from Osram. The network provides local information such as offers from retailers and information about local companies to the smartphones users via Bluetooth.

E. Chicago, USA

The city of Chicago has also decided to replace 270,000 outdated HPS light fixtures with LEDs and intelligent controls. The project began in the fall of 2017 by installing around 18,000 new light fixtures on the South and West Sides. It will be completed over the course of four years. With this project, the city is expecting to save $10 million a year in energy costs.

Wrapping Up

Smart lighting solutions, coupled with wireless communication technology, are rapidly changing the face of city infrastructure. As a responsible citizen, you should be aware of what smart city projects are and how they can help you, the city administration, and the environment. From energy savings to safer traffic due to increased visibility, this article will help you understand the various aspects of smart street lighting solutions. Do you think your city should also install smart street light solutions? Tell us more in your comments.

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