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Connected street lights to reach 62.9m units in 2025, as the smart cities concept rolls out

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Rethink Technology Research forecasts nearly 63m connected street lights, or CSLs, in 2025, in a market worth over $5bn. However, of those units, only 15% will be directly integrated into Smart City Platforms (SCPs) and used in collaboration with other smart city applications.

“While this sounds discouraging, it is worth remembering that the street lighting market is quite slow moving, and that cities are not exactly fast movers,” states Rethink Technology Research in its latest report on smart cities and street lighting. “The CSL market has been largely driven by the introduction of LED lighting, which afforded adopters huge savings on their energy bills. However, now that the low-hanging fruit is dwindling, as old analogue lights die off, the CSL market needs to wholeheartedly embrace the smart city opportunity, to become inextricable partners in the formative years of the smart city market – providing both a standalone application as well as the networking infrastructure on which to build additional functions.”

There are at least 500m street lights globally, of which 300m are pole-based. For cities, lighting has almost always been the largest part of the energy bill, and the sales pitch for the LED vendors was that simply swapping from old analogue luminaires to new digital LEDs would save around half of that energy bill. Some 20% of the lighting stock that has already been converted to LEDs to date, which gives room for more growth in this market.

CSLs allow cities to schedule and coordinate lighting levels to match the environment, to ensure the city is always appropriately lit and not wasting power. The dimming capabilities of LEDs also allow for dynamic lighting choices, to illuminate areas of interest in cities with tourist attractions, create ambience in desired locations, and increase the brightness to respond to conditions on the ground. This would include increasing lighting levels at the request of the police force, responding to an incident, or turning the LEDs down to bare minimum, when there are no citizens around.

The connectivity lets the network identify luminaires that have failed, removing the need for manual inspections, so that an engineer only has to make visits to the necessary units.

“The CSL’s networking capabilities can be used by all manner of other smart city applications that might not be capable of justifying such a network deployment in isolation, but which could piggyback on the connections between these lights and the SCP. This would include things like environmental sensing, particularly air quality and noise pollution, presence detection and footfall analysis, to guide dimming schedules as well as provide valuable data for the city to use in decision making, and more advanced data-heavy tasks like video analytics for traffic and pedestrian routing, and public safety – including flood and weather warnings,” states the report.

[Image credit: Amy Chen for Unsplash]

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