Smart Lighting Contributes Energy-Savings to Automated City Systems

By Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a smart technology writer who has written for Information Management, Robotiq, Robotics Business Review, and Manufacturing.net. To read more by Ms. Matthews, visit her blog Productivity Bytes, or follow her on Twitter @KaylaEMatthews.

Dec 17, 2018 | Infrastructure | 2 comments

The number of smart streetlights that will be installed in cities across the world will reach nearly 73 million by 2026, according to forecasts from Navigant research.

The most recent Smart City Tracker report from the group contains smart city initiatives from 221 cities, of which a quarter include smart lighting. These projects range from pilots to deployments consisting of hundreds of thousands of lights.

One of the primary reasons municipalities deploy smart lighting is their ability to save energy and, therefore, money. According to Gartner Inc., smart LED lighting can reduce energy costs by as much as 90 percent in industrial installations and office buildings. Cities around the world have begun investing in this energy-saving solution that will help regulate data, safety, and the environment.

 

How Does Smart Lighting Save Energy?

Smart lights can incorporate a variety of sensors, including motion sensors. This enables them to turn on only when they detect a pedestrian or vehicle in the vicinity. When there’s no one around, they can turn off or at least dim. This can save substantial amounts of energy by avoiding wasting energy producing light that no one will benefit from.

Other sensors embedded in smart lights can help optimize their performance even further. Using sensors that detect the amount of sunlight present, for example, lights could automatically adjust their brightness. They could also use weather data to increase intensity on mornings with heavy fog.

Smart lights can be connected to the internet, allowing them to both receive data and send recorded data to a central system. This allows the system management to continually optimize the bulbs’ performance based on historical data and predictions of future lighting needs.

Smart lighting systems also use light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, as opposed to traditional incandescent or fluorescent lights. LED lighting is the most efficient lighting technology we have today. According to the Department of Energy, residential LEDs use about 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 25 times longer, even without smart technology.

 

Smart City Lighting Projects

Numerous cities around the world have launched smart lighting initiatives. Some of these cities are in the pilot phase, while others have fully deployed the technology. Here are a few of those initiatives:

 

1. Chicago

In 2017, Chicago launched a smart lighting program that aims to install 270,000 LED bulbs over the course of four years. During the first year of the project, the city installed 81,000 LED lights, and the project is now in phase two.

Chicago estimates that it will save around $10 million each year in utility costs. The project includes a monitoring and control system that immediately alerts the city of any outages and allows workers to optimize the performance of the streetlights.

 

2. Barcelona

In 2012, the city of Barcelona published its Barcelona Lighting Masterplan, which included the use of smart LED lampposts. The lights contain motions sensors and dim to save energy when they don’t detect anyone in the area. The city reported saving 30 percent on its energy costs for lighting. The smart lampposts also provide free Wi-Fi across the city and collect air quality data.

 

3. Adelaide, Australia

The city of Adelaide, the fifth most populous city in Australia, recently completed a smart lighting pilot project. The pilot involved installing more than 60 smart LED lights in the center of the city.

The lights were programmed to switch on 15 minutes before sunset and off 15 minutes after sunrise. The lights also contained motion sensors and dimmed if they didn’t detect anyone nearby.

The city also tested sensors that detected ambient light and dimmed the lights if significant light was available from other sources. Adelaide is still analyzing the results of the pilot. The project is part of the city’s goal to become the world’s first carbon-neutral city.

 

4. Los Angeles

Los Angeles has converted 140,000 of its streetlights to LEDs and monitors and manages 110,000 of them using a smart lighting management system. This initiative has reduced energy usage for street lighting by around 63 percent and saved the city approximately $9.5 million in annual operational and maintenance costs.

The city has also launched a pilot project that involves monitoring the power supply to the lights, helping grid managers to detect outages more quickly. Additionally, the lightposts are equipped with microphones to monitor environmental noise to help it ensure compliance with noise regulations and respond to noise complaints.

 

Challenges of Smart Lighting

Smart city lighting projects aren’t without their challenges, however. Although research and past projects have established that smart lighting reduces costs over time, it can still be difficult for some municipalities to get the funds required to make the necessary initial investment.

A lack of understanding of smart control technologies can add to the challenge of convincing stakeholders to back smart lighting projects.

Additionally, utilities sometimes own streetlights, which requires local government and utilities to work together. While this can cause delays, utilities often understand that smart lighting can save them money.

Growing numbers of cities, utilities and governments are, however, recognizing the benefits of smart lighting. In addition to energy efficiency, these advantages include reduced carbon emissions, improved public safety, improved data insights and more, leading more and more cities around the world to incorporate smart LED lighting into their automated ecosystems.

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2 Comments

  1. You may be interested to know that Niger State Government, Nigeria is in the process of developing a pilot Smart City in one of its cities call Suleja. This is with technical assistance from South Korean Government. The objective is develop a compact, connected and socially inclusive city: that emphasize low carbon construction; extensive use of renewable energy systems and components. The main components of the Smart City are Advance meter infrastructure; Smart Street Lights; Smart Buildings; and Open Data. The expectation is that the pilot project will provide a basis for retrofitting parts of the other major cities in the State.

    Reply
  2. Great Article!

    It really amazed me. I was not aware that it can save energy as well which is really important for our ecosystem.

    I would like to add my insights on the benefits of smart light which are as follow:

    Save money with smart lights and your smart home app:

    Most people have left the house, gone to work and returned home to discover that they’ve left a lamp on in the bedroom having got ready in a hurry or that a light has been left on in the bathroom perhaps. With smart lighting if you’re even slightly concerned that you’ve left a light on you can go on the app, find the light in question and turn it off with a simple tap on the screen.

    Colour-changing smart light bulbs:

    You’re not longer forced to have either a white or coloured light bulb. Smart light bulbs use LEDs that can be adjusted using the app on your phone or tablet so that it can change colour whenever you want it to.

    If you’re having a themed party you can adjust the colour of each light individually or change the feel of a whole room if you wish, or you can change the bulb colour to give you an authentic cinema or football ground feel if you wish – go where the mood takes you!

    Maximise security by turning lights on while you’re away:

    It’s natural to worry about people approaching or breaking into your home while you’re away on holiday. Thieves can often tell when a house is unoccupied for any length of time, but you can do your best to deter them by programming your smart lighting to come on as it goes dark for a few hours in the evening, giving the impression that someone is home even when you’re thousands of miles away.

    Long-life smart light bulbs

    In the case of Philips Hue smart light bulbs each bulb could last for up to 15 years or 15,000 hours of use, depending on which one comes first. In comparison the standard light bulbs that you may have in your home at the moment last for between 1,000 and 2,000 hours before they need changing.

    Reply

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