Smart Lighting Contributes Energy-Savings to Automated City Systems
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:
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.
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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