Why smart street lighting should be the first step in your smart city project

The introduction of smart street lighting can often act as the first step to realising a smart city’s true potential.

Across the UK, many local authorities are in the midst of a transition from standard street lighting to more cost-efficient LED technology.

Indeed, analysts Northeast Group predict that as much as 89% of the planet’s 363 million streetlights will have adopted LED technology by 2027. It makes financial sense. The switch to LED represents an effective reduction in costs, maintenance, and environmental degradation. Updating to more robust and resilient technology seems innocuous enough, but LED installation represents a golden opportunity for smart city planners.

What many local authorities are missing, however, is that the switch to LED bulbs offers the opportunity to jointly transition to a smart street lighting system. The same Northeast Group reports posit that just 29% of the global total of LED bulbs will have installed smart lighting features within the next decade.

Installing at the same time in a no brainer, in terms of maintenance and building costs. Indeed, if the thought process behind the switch to LED is to ease the burden of energy expenditure, then smarter street lighting should be seen as an even greater boon in the budgeting sphere.

At a time when local authorities are staring down the barrel of decreased budgets and funding cuts, investing in the right areas is more crucial than ever before.  

Why is smart street lighting the answer?

Alone, smart lighting systems turn a city’s lighting grid into one centrally-controlled network; each individual light able to be modified as a single element, or part of the wider system. Lighting, of course, is paramount to a city experience; improving safety both for pedestrians and vehicles, enhancing areas of beauty or high tourism footfall, and generally keeping the city running in hours of darkness.

A smarter street lighting system offers the opportunity to control the output of each and every light; brightening in areas of high crime, or being programmed to respond to pedestrian or vehicle activity. It also offers the chance for each light to be individually monitored and maintained, meaning technicians need not be needlessly called out to manually check the health of each bulb.

However, improvements to a city’s lighting infrastructure aren’t the only benefits a transition to smart street lighting offers. By hooking up each and every pole to a wider network connection, each lamp becomes an Internet of Things (IoT) ready installation platform, a plug-in-and-play IoT base acting as a catalyst for additional smart city investment.  

With a safe and secure connection already present via the lighting system, bolt-on technologies from CCTV cameras to advertising boards can be added to the network, offering a range of benefits from public safety to revenue options.

A futureproof concept 

By realising the potential in street lamps as a vehicle for wider IoT investments, local authorities already have an abundance of fixed data points, pre-powered to act as a base for additional sensors.

There’s a case to be made for using the switch to LED as a means for taking the next leap in smart city technology. By using the pre-planned installation time, local authorities could turn their ubiquitous asset into the backbone of a futureproof smart city project, adding new technologies to their fixed hub as and when they see fit.

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Whether you’re a local authority looking to provide public WiFi or seeking a connectivity solution for Smart Cities, the IoT or 5G / Small Cells in your town or city, or if you are interested in partnering with us around the Connected City Platform in any of our forthcoming town and city roll-outs, we’d love to explain more about who we are and what we do.

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