A smart city needs more than connected street lights

A smart city needs more than connected street lights
A city doesn’t turn itself into a smart city after installing smart streetlights. A smart city gets its name for letting smart streetlights function in many other ways.
 
Smart street lighting can be complemented with the addition of security cameras, environmental sensors, traffic monitors, as well as an embedded electric vehicle (EV) charger installed on a lamppost. Each embedded sensor or gadget adds another benefit for cities installing smart street lighting.
 
“Public lighting represents one of the finest powered grids spread across towns and cities throughout the globe. It is a nerve system of a city that connects over 260 million streetlights worldwide with access to 24x7 power. Street pole is therefore an ideal spot for mounting smart city systems,” said Chintan Shah, the founder and CEO at Tvilight, a smart lighting solution provider based in the Netherlands.
 
A security camera can be embedded into a smart streetlight, to monitor public areas as well as providing footage of incidents. Environmental sensors can collect data such as humidity, temperature and air quality for citizens. Traffic sensors can provide real-time information on road conditions.
 
Future streetlights could even possibly project a colored light on the path of an emergency vehicle, so that traffic ahead could start moving aside even before hearing the siren. 
Chintan Shah, founder and CEO, Tvilight
“Through Open API approach, multiple devices, systems and assets can be inter-connected to help cities become future-ready and leverage such interoperability,” said Shah.
 
“Further good news is that unlike most smart city applications, intelligent lighting saves cities’ money from day one. Besides a low energy bill and reduced operational expenses, they offer exciting revenue generating opportunities e.g. leasing space for smart advertisement billboards,” said Shah.
 
Security cameras and various sensors are able to utilize the infrastructure, such as power and networks, from smart street lightings.
 
For network options, “cell towers today are based on 3GPP network and are being rapidly updated to offer NB-IoT communication through a simple software update,” said Shah. “Such M2M-based low-cost communication offers deep coverage to connect smart streetlights and other smart city devices such as parking nodes, traffic counters and air pollution sensors.”
 
Low-cost telecom networks like NB-IoT could also eliminates the need for cities to own and manage other networks like LoRA, Sigfox, UNB or Wi-SUN.
 
San Diego utilizes data from streetlight nodes
 
San Diego, California has deployed 4,200 CityIQ nodes from Current by GE to collect data in the city. The goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to use infrastructure more efficiently, to get the city moving using sustainable modes of transport, and to foster economic growth.
 
The data collected by CityIQ nodes is already being used by the Office of Economic Development, the San Diego Police Department and Traffic Engineering Operations to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety. Some public applications are created based on the data, including a real-time response safety application and a connected-data-and-AI platform for tracing mobility patterns on traffic parking and pedestrian movement called Xaqt.
 
“A truly smart city uses connected sensors or nodes to gather data for applications that ultimately better the lives of its citizens. Whether reducing congestion and average commute times, alerting local police when a gunshot is detected, preventing collisions at the most dangerous intersections, or monitoring air quality hits, an intelligent smart city platform identifies patterns within a lake of anonymized data to provide city leaders with real-time insights to make decisions that affect day-to-day life,” said Austin Ashe, General Manager of Intelligent Cities at Current by GE.
 


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