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The Future of Street Lighting

Public street lighting is an essential element of the urban environment, affecting peoples’ sense of safety and providing an inviting environment for business and tourism after dark. However, traditional sodium street lights are extremely energy inefficient, often consuming approximately 40% of a city’s overall electricity costs.

In recent years, many cities have started to replace their traditional sodium streetlights with energy efficient Light Emitting Diode (LED) based lights, which lower energy consumption and reduce maintenance costs, helping cities to meet sustainability targets and emerging government standards.

Further savings can be captured by networking these LED street lightings through a communications network and implementing a central management system (CMS) in order to create adaptive, interoperable lighting solutions. However, with this connectivity in place, cities are increasingly seeing the wider potential of smart street lighting infrastructure.

The Future Cities Catapult has written a “Future of Street Lighting” report exploring the various applications that can be enabled by networked street lights, ranging from environmental monitoring, traffic optimisation and public safety solutions, to public Wi-Fi provision, to electric vehicle charging.

With an even and widespread distribution across urban areas, readily available power and integrated connectivity smart street lighting is being used to form the technology foundation of a city. Through the addition of data collection devices such as sensors and cameras, street lighting infrastructure is being used as a platform to host a variety of ‘smart city’ applications.

Brian Buntz of the Internet of Things Institute describes this potential by writing, “Lamp posts may well follow a trajectory similar to that of mobile phones. It wasn’t so long ago that mobile phones were suited for one purpose only – making calls. Now, making a phone call has become almost secondary to all of a smartphone’s other capabilities. Similarly, while the lamp posts of yesteryear provided only illumination, modern-day lamp posts can serve as multi-functional smart-city nodes, capable of monitoring everything from crime to parking to weather.”

Download the infographic.

Powered by the Future Cities Catapult and the Digital Catapult, IoTUK is a programme of activities that seeks to advance the UK’s global leadership in the Internet of Things (IoT) and increase the adoption of high quality IoT technologies and services throughout businesses and the public sector. It is a national programme designed to accelerate the UK’s Internet of Things (IoT) capability, which was launched as part of the Government’s £32m investment in IoT.

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