Cities are rushing to replace their legacy street lights with “smart LED fixtures” that could one day be able to find you a parking space, monitor air quality, and announce an oncoming thunderstorm.
Today, hopes have coalesced around the potential for “smart” street lights, which bear sensors that can do everything from analyzing traffic patterns to assisting 911 operators.
“Streetlights are becoming the backbone of larger smart city initiatives,” per a report by the Northeast Group, a smart cities market intelligence firm.
Cities large and small — including Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Cleveland — have been replacing traditional streetlights with LEDs, which consume less energy and can be programmed to dim or or brighten as needed.
“Street lighting can be up to 40% of a city’s energy bills, so you see huge cost savings across the board,” Benjamin Gardner, president of the Northeast Group.
Sensors placed on streetlights have manifold applications and will have more in the future.
An Intel white paper envisions a day when street lights do everything from traffic and parking control to guiding people out of danger during an emergency (by flashing in the direction of evacuation).
“The vision here is to augment the existing infrastructure via the cloud to allow data and additional functionality to flow through what was a dumb asset,” Martin Stephenson, head of North America systems & services for Signify, a major connected lighting vendor.