makes sense. Installers can screw in a wireless controller at
the same time they place the fixtures to make the transition to
intelligent lighting. By doing everything at once, cities can bring
down costs through more energy efficiency and bring intelligence to their systems.
It’s not just a matter of saving time on installations. The 2014
ANSI 136.41 standard for area lighting called for better controls,
which are available now from numerous vendors.
These transitions are already underway in major cities.
One example is Los Angeles, which is installing fully upgraded
LEDs along with a wireless network.
Utilities own the majority of public street lighting; therefore,
the involvement of these entities is necessary for such installations to become universal. Cities have been collaborating with
utilities to add networked controls to LED retrofits as an easy
pathway to other smart-city applications.
“We’ve seen cities like Chicago, Halifax and Miami in North
America, and Bristol, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Paris and others
overseas, lead the charge for smart-lighting deployments,”
Older streetlights can consume up to 40 percent of a city’s
energy budget and require regular maintenance to repair individual luminaires. By networking upgraded LED luminaires, cities
can lower costs by as much as 60 percent, according to Davito.
Intelligent streetlights can also boost savings by varying brightness based on traffic flows, time of night and weather. Controls
can also help increase road safety for drivers and pedestrians.
LED-based streetlights have a lifespan of up to 20 years (
versus five years for HPS and mercury-vapor lamps) and are
highly controllable. Networking offers the benefits of remote
monitoring and management, automatic outage detection and
In fact, the initial use cases for smart streetlights are typically centered on remote management of the fixture—dimming,
advanced schedule management, device diagnostics and pre-dictive maintenance, for instance. These features save operators
money and enable community leaders to establish a platform
for future smart-city services.
“With little incremental cost, the network for streetlights
can be expanded into other smart-city and smart-grid applications,” Davito said.
This includes traffic light controls; smart parking; traffic
management; electric vehicle charging stations; and electric,
water and gas metering. All of this makes it easy to gradually
expand smart-city initiatives.
For example, in Scotland’s Future City Programme, the city
of Glasgow deployed adaptive streetlights and sensors on an
active travel route for cyclists and pedestrians to monitor vehi-
cle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic as well as dim and increase
illumination according to need.
Copenhagen, Denmark, has set a goal of becoming carbon-neutral by the year 2025. It is also growing at a rate of 1,000 new
citizens each month, which requires cutting-edge solutions to
ensure mobility, safety and sustainability. For that reason, the
city is transforming how it manages energy use, traffic systems
and emergency response.
Copenhagen’s commitment to the smart-city transformation begins, in part, with a more efficient and networked
street-lighting system supported by Silver Spring Networks,
according to Davito. One application uses intersection-based
occupancy sensors and light controls to sense an approaching
cyclist and provide extra light as he or she crosses the dangerous vehicle crossings.
Another city example is Chicago. Utility ComEd is working
with the city to connect streetlights to its network, so the lights
can be dimmed at the right time to reduce usage and save money
and brightened to help create safer streets. ComEd is leveraging
its existing smart-grid network to deploy smart streetlights.
In addition to remotely controlling and scheduling the lights
and receiving maintenance updates if the lights go out, ComEd
is looking at how to use intelligent lights for other functions,
such as having a lamp pulse outside a home that has called 911
and is waiting for emergency responders.
Lighting is still just the tip of the intelligence iceberg. While
smart lighting is often the initial application, smart cities
encompass a full spectrum of community systems, including
transportation, energy, water, engaged citizens, health and
safety, environmental sustainability, and building management,
Davito said. The associated applications and citizen services
must seamlessly integrate to enable people and their city to
As budgets allow, some cities are choosing to go beyond government guidelines to position their infrastructure for future
development, according to Rita Renner, director of corporate
marketing, LEED, at intelligent lighting company Echelon,
Santa Clara, Calif.
“The streetlights essentially become an integrated networked control platform that extends beyond the cost-saving
With little incremental cost, the
network for streetlights can be
expanded into other smart-city
and smart-grid applications.
—Brandon Davito, Silver Spring Networks