Smart City: Street Lighting 2.0

Street light maintenance is expensive. That’s why many cities are trying out intelligent lighting systems that can be remotely controlled. These networked lamps do more than just light up: they constitute the nodes of a mesh network and complement the communication infrastructure of the Smart City.

Each year, European street lighting consumes about 60 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. In the same period of time, this amount of energy could sustain 18 million average households. Cities and communities spend on average more than 40 percent of their energy budget on street lighting. Government has already taken appropriate steps: in 2009, the European Union issued an ordinance (EC245/2009) calling for more economical lighting systems. Cities and communities are obliged to equip about 100 million street lights with energy saving lamps by 2015. This is an excellent opportunity to connect street lighting with the internet of things. Cities will be able to monitor the status of the lamps at a glance. Moreover, they can adjust the lighting on demand and thus lower both energy consumption and CO2 emissions.


Europe advances the digitalization of urban infrastructures


EU policy considers these smart city solutions to be very promising. Thus, the EU is promoting the digitalization of urban infrastructure with a number of programs, such as the “Digital Agenda for Europe”. In the framework of the European Innovation Partnerships on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC), cities, industry and citizens are calling for the development of digital technologies in urban areas. Also, within the next six years, the research and innovation program, Horizon 2020, will be distributing funds of roughly 80 billion Euros for the intelligent city. It is proving a worthwhile investment; Deutsche Telekom, in cooperation with its partner, Paradox Engineering, offers an M2M solution, which, in combination with LEDs, allows for a reduction of up to 70 percent in energy costs and a reduction of up to 10 percent in maintenance costs.


For cities to be able to remotely control each lamp, the lamps must be fitted with network nodes. This upgrade is easy for HID and LED lamps. The installer fits the network node either to the lamppost in a little box or directly to the lamp itself. Alternatively, lamp manufacturers integrate the hardware during production. This is usually the case when older lamp models are replaced by more efficient HID or HB LEDs. It does not imply, however, that the cityscape loses its historic street lamps. Many producers are cooperating with restoration experts and together they are able to match the electronic components to each lamp model.

A network of things in the internet of things


Once the lamps are fitted with network nodes they form a wireless mesh network. These communication networks pass on information from node to node until it reaches the target recipient. If a node malfunctions, the network redirects the data across other nodes. Should a node lie beyond the reach of a gateway, other nodes in the vicinity will automatically act as repeaters and ensure that it is connected nonetheless.





Additionally, the use of gateways is necessary to allow the city to access the lamps via a web portal. Gateways connect the mesh network, for example, with a mobile phone network. They receive information from the network nodes and pass it on to the infrastructure of a cloud server or the city's local server. At the same time, they receive commands from these servers and pass them on to the respective nodes.


Programmable street lighting


This allows for the municipal administration to remotely control the lamps– for example, to switch them on or off, to dim them, to assess key performance indicators of each lamp and to configure the transmission of information. If a lamp is spent, for example, or draws more energy than usual, the system will automatically alert a service technician.


The use of open standards allows the city to enhance the system by installing light or motion sensors as well as other sources of data. Thus, city lighting can be programmed according to the prevailing conditions. For example, as the sky turns dark at dusk, the lamps activate themselves and automatically increase their light intensity in accordance with the growing darkness. In less frequented areas, they only activate themselves when required. Once a motion detector is activated by a passerby, the other lamps in the vicinity are automatically switched on and start beaming. The advantage for the environment is not only a considerably lower energy consumption, but a reduction in light pollution as well.


Open standards allow for an application agnosticl approach


There is one more advantage for cities: as the street lighting's mesh network is completely based upon open standards, it allows for other smart city solutions as well. Being distributed evenly throughout the city, street lights are the ideal pillars of an application agnostic multi-functional network. Other smart city applications that serve purposes such as parking site or waste management can use the mesh network as well. Thus street lights are a valuable addition to the smart city's communication infrastructure.

Tags: M2M , Internet of Things , Smart City , Street Lighting Management , Horizon 2020 , Mesh Network

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