Connected lighting provides the backbone for new city services

dark street with street lights

Energy-efficient lighting is a top choice for U.S. cities, and for good reasons.

LED or other energy-efficient street lighting projects rank first among energy technologies that have been deployed by cities, according to a research study by the Mayors Climate Protection Center. Due to the significant energy savings LED bulbs offer, it is often easy to justify the upgrade, and explains why this is the top choice for more than four out of five cities (82 percent, in fact).

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Want to get the most out of your lighting investment?

It’s easy. Connect the light poles!

Improve energy savings with a smart management platform that controls lighting based on real-time conditions, not just time of day. Increase energy savings to an estimated 80+ percent by connecting the light poles versus an estimated 50 percent energy savings when switching to LEDs only.

Making the light poles smart helps to eliminate overlighting and overspending on energy.

A two-and-a-half-year pilot project involving some of the world’s largest cities (New York, London, Hong Kong, Toronto, and Sydney) found that combining LEDs with smart controls generated energy savings up to 85 percent higher. Further savings can be found through reduced maintenance on the longer-lasting LED bulbs.

Once light poles are connected, sensors can be added to detect motion, sounds (like gunshots), deliver audio announcements, and monitor pollution. Digital signage (providing traffic instructions, advertising, maps, and public transportation information), video surveillance, public Wi-Fi, and even cellular sites can be added to light poles.

Connected lighting essentially creates a backbone where these sensors can reside.

Sharing data across various applications is critical to gaining the full benefit from each application deployed. When data is shared and not siloed within the single application, additive value occurs for the city and its citizens. Multi-use infrastructure, such as light poles, leverages the city’s investments over a wider range of public and private uses.

Improving safety and security

Think about how safety and security could be improved by sharing data from different applications and leveraging smart light poles.

As a citizen walks through a dimly lit park, the lights brighten from movement detection and anticipate the timing and direction to light the person’s pathway. The moment the audio detection sensor recognizes the sound of a gunshot or a cry for help, all the lights in the vicinity are fully lit and an alarm sounds through the attached speaker on the pole.

With an LTE cellular connection, video cameras are triggered and the video feed is sent to the e-911 operator to assess the situation and dispatch the correct level of emergency response based on the video and audio feed. One step further and the e-911 operator could communicate through the light pole speaker, ensuring the citizen that help is on the way.

Technology enables this scenario to become a reality, and companies like AT&T and Ericsson are working to provide LTE cellular service inside a light pole. Once this high-speed, reliable communication service is embedded in a light pole, the area’s cellular coverage and capacity improves and new applications are possible.

Called “Zero Sites”, these LTE-embedded light poles are currently being tested in Los Angeles.

As connections multiply, AT&T and their Alliance partners are helping cities utilize all their assets and integrate scalable hardware and software more securely, which will allows them to gain the full benefit of application-specific projects using one unified system. And that’s what smart cities are all about. 

Beverly Rider Head of Cloud
IoT & Smart Cities
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