Smart Lighting: The Gateway to Smart Cities

For cities and towns looking to build smart city connectivity, the place to start is with streetlights. The ubiquitous infrastructure of a streetlight system provides the perfect foundation for installing and deploying city technologies from Internet of Things (IoT) to connected sensors to broadband wireless networks.

Smart Lighting for Small Cities

Deloitte defines a smart city of the 21st century as “an urban center that not only leverages technology to improve its own operations but also connects with citizens, businesses, and nonprofits in new ways.”

When cities upgrade aging streetlights to more energy-efficient LED luminaries, they realize reductions of energy and operating costs of up to 70%. The addition of smart controls, which enable owners to adjust lighting to appropriate conditions and monitor remotely, increases the reductions by 20%.

Urban and large metropolitan hubs have grabbed the lionshare of headlines for their smart city transformations.  However, the cost-benefits of streetlight upgrades have forged viable smart city pathways for small and mid-sized towns. RealTerm Energy has completed over 300 LED lighting upgrades for small to mid-sized municipalities in North America, having had deploying smart controls in 10% of these.

Smaller municipalities can be less densely populated, streetlights are scattered, lighting conditions inconsistent and access to wireless connectivity spotty. Its more likely than not that smaller towns will have a less than accurate accounting of the streetlights in their inventory, which means they are likely paying more than they should.

Smart city technologies narrow gaps, reduce inefficiencies  and address accessibility issues characteristic of smaller towns.  With streetlight upgrades, municipalities can correct flaws in foundational infrastructures and uncover opportunities.  City leaders and managers can take control and make more informed data-driven decisions that lead to more cost efficient and energy efficient operations.

How Smart Lighting Enhances Safety

An important citizen benefit of smart lighting is its ability to support technologies that enhance air quality and citizen safety.

LED streetlights become “smart” initially with the addition of smart controls that allow for intuitive dimming and remote monitoring. Smart lights adapt to weather patterns and ambient environments, making traffic and pedestrian pathways safer without increasing light pollution.

Surveillance cameras, gunshot detectors, air quality sensors are all smart technologies that enhance safety. Surveillance cameras have created citizen-concern regarding privacy in some communities. But on the whole smart cities leverage technology to facilitate better interaction between municipal leaders and residents.  With enhanced engagement we may start to work through scenarios where the pros outweigh the cons and where privacy measures can coexist with forward-thinking technology.