5 keys to making your next street light project a success

by American City & County Contributor
Mar 26, 2018

By Doug Peeples, Smart City Council 

Smart street light projects have often the first choice of city leaders who want their city to become a smart city. They’re much more efficient to operate and maintain. But cities are now seeing the potential of much more ambitious fully-connected street light networks.

About 73 million connected street lights are expected to be installed throughout the world by 2026, Navigant Research predicts. That's impressive in that the market research and consulting firm also notes that smart street lighting accounts for just 2% of the total number of installed street lights now.

While the benefits of intelligent LED lighting are very real, city officials and planners can get bogged down in the planning details or aren’t sure which next step is the right one for their particular needs. A Navigant report, Smart Street Lighting for Smart Cities, includes five recommendations to help cities develop a street lighting policy that will help ensure their projects are successful and can be deployed with minimal delay.

  • Think of street lighting improvements as an element of an overall IoT strategy, one that integrates with other digital technologies for city operations and services a city is or may be planning.

  • Collaborate across departments to ensure that the door will remain open to adding applications to the street light network in the future — and consider partnering with other stakeholders such as local electric utilities.

  • Identify potential problems and sticking points first. A street lighting network can be the framework for many other applications, but they aren't all going to have the same priority for every city.

  • Collaboration and consolidation among city departments is practical, but city officials should recognize those departments may not have the same needs and that a hybrid approach will likely be necessary. For example, the communications technology needed for smart street lights may not be the same as it would be for public safety applications.

  • Think of smart street lights as an asset, one that can generate new sources of revenue. Light poles are increasingly being used to increase the range of cellular and Wi-Fi services and the availability of EV charging stations, among other applications.

Here is a sampling of some of the projects that are in the works:

The Midland, Texas City Council is considering a package that includes switching to LED street lighting, adding smart cameras to monitor available parking spaces and solar lights for three city parks.

Chelmsford, UK has the distinction of being Britain's first city conducting a field trial with smart street lights bundled with Wi-Fi hotspot access, sensors for monitoring pollution levels and technology to assist driverless vehicle navigation. Its street lights also have a 'universal socket' attached for future applications.

Atlanta testing smart street lights as part of Georgia's Smart Corridor, a research and development hub intended to assess which smart city technologies would do the most good and could be reproduced throughout the city's neighborhoods. It plans to pair the smart street lights with smart traffic signals, wireless vehicle-to-infrastructure and autonomous cars in the corridor. The city says this isn’t just for show-and-tell; the area is growing so fast that the city is obligated to find solutions to improve livability.

Doug Peeples is Readiness Editor of the Smart Cities Council, which works to help cities use technology to become more livable, workable and sustainable. Register for the Council’s next Smart Cities Week Silicon Valley, May 7-9 in Santa Clara, CA.



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