The miniaturization of microprocessor technology has
resulted in the ability to embed intelligence and sensors/cameras
in lamps and luminaires. Lighting is ubiquitous in buildings, presenting an ideal platform for sensors using a retrofit to LED
lighting. Similarly, public street and area lighting is common in
urban outdoor areas. Manufacturers such as GE, Osram, Philips
and Sylvania are actively selling smart-city solutions.
“Due to their digital nature, these controls are inherently
compatible with LEDs,” said Todd Smith, director of engineer-
ing and solution development, Sylvania Lighting Solutions.
“Therefore, LEDs have the potential to be the primary infra-
structure through which smart city networks are delivered.”
A smart city solution might include a collection of buildings,
all outdoor spaces, or both. Typically, for outdoor lighting, com-
munication is wireless. The streetlight may also host wireless
signal boosters and networking hubs.
The three major capabilities of the lighting platform include
light, management and data. The LED luminaires must provide
quality lighting while reducing energy costs by up to 50–70
percent; it is 80 percent when paired with controls. Next, the
luminaires are connected within a programmable and manageable network, allowing sophisticated control strategies and
remote configuration. Luminaires can turn lights on and off or
dim them, individually or in groups, based on inputs such as time
of day, daylight or occupancy. Finally, the luminaire may incorporate additional sensors to capture additional data for analysis
or alerts. Data is delivered to the cloud or a server for retrieval.
Measurable conditions include lamp/luminaire status,
power and energy consumption, occupancy/motion, relative
humidity, temperature, daylight, air quality, snow accumulation, smoke, radiation and noises such as gunshots. City officials
can use this data for both analytics to improve process efficien-cies and for alerts to facilitate efficient response.
For example, the system could detect a lighting or power
outage, gas leak or car accident and immediately alert city officials, improving emergency response times. Geolocation-based
alerts identify the exact site of events.
Another potential capability is integration of Wi-Fi access
points, which can enhance city services while providing a
valuable service to city residents and visitors. Manufacturer
software may offer a broad range of capabilities, though
extended capabilities may require custom software.
“Capabilities of a smart city are endless, and, oftentimes,
cities can work with any of a wide variety of application developers to deliver better asset management, service delivery,
citizen safety or municipal operations,” said James Benson,
GM Global Marketing, Current, powered by GE, Intelligent
Cities. “Once the city has the physical infrastructure and open/
scalable digital framework in place, the sky is the limit with
regard to what their smart city can achieve.”
While interconnected streetlights sound complex, installation may be fairly straightforward. The control node plugs
directly into the luminaire receptacle based on an ANSI-stan-dardized connection. No additional wiring is required. Also, the
EC may have the opportunity to help maintain the system.
System planners must accommodate potential problems that
may occur during operation, such as noise on the line in the case
of powerline communication and occlusions and frequency of
data transmission if wireless.
Availability of 24/7 power to the light pole is another concern. Intelligent streetlights with embedded sensors and
communications require power during the day; shutdown of
power to the network can be problematic.
“A well-designed smart city infrastructure can enhance
services and business opportunities, improve safety and boost
collaboration between the city, its citizens and businesses and
continue to do so for decades to come,” said Susanne Seitinger,
global subsegment manager, Philips Lighting, professional sys-
tems. “To achieve this, decision-makers should make sure the
following questions can be answered satisfactorily: Is it scal-
able? Is suitable connectivity available? Are the right IT staff
available? Is it sufficiently secure? Can all the elements be inte-
grated successfully? Is it accessible?”
To broaden adoption, various lighting-industry play-
ers formed the TALQ Consortium to develop standardized,
interoperable interfaces connecting streetlighting networks
with various hardware and software vendors. This enables
open systems using interoperable solutions. The Outdoor
Lighting Standard was completed in 2016, with the first com-
pliant systems expected to be rolled out this year. For more, visit
With the flexibility inherent in LED and controls, outdoor
lighting can deliver satisfying energy savings. With intelligence,
communication and the ability to collect data, it can deliver
sensing, decision-making, control and prediction. ECs that
become educated on the technology may position themselves
for these new opportunities.
DILOUIE, L.C. is a journalist and educator specializing in the lighting
industry. Learn more at ZINGinc.com and LightNOWblog.com.
> FOCUS THE BRIGHT OUTDOORS
In 2015, the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting implemented a
connected street-lighting-management system. In September 2016,
Los Angeles announced a new program to add more sensor nodes to
experiment with additional smart city capabilities.