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Monday - December 6, 2021

Smart Lighting Systems Open Cities for Success

Like Rome, smart cities aren’t built in a day. When starting the journey to smart city status, many municipalities find it makes sense to begin with smart lighting. At its core, smart lighting is defined as LED streetlights connected to an underlying network that centrally controls them. Once this infrastructure is in place, smart lighting becomes the perfect foundation layer for future smart city applications.

Smart lighting systems can bring significant cost savings, reduce energy consumption, tackle climate change, and generally make cities safer, livable, and more attractive. Before a city begins a smart lighting initiative, however, it’s important to have the information necessary to make a business case and justify the cost outlay. Following are some of the most significant benefits of smart lighting.

Cost Savings of Smart Lighting Systems

On average, streetlighting accounts for 40 percent of a typical city’s electricity bill. The amount of savings a city can expect depends on many variables, according to Gianni Minetti, CEO of Paradox Engineering.

“Streetlighting and mobility systems are often the first public services to come under scrutiny when a city heads for smartness,” said Minetti. “Local governments tend to prioritize investments that bring the most value both for citizens and the community. They are increasingly challenged to continue to improve urban life while consuming fewer resources, including money.”

Smart lighting investments can pay for themselves. In 2016, the city council of San Leandro, California appointed the energy services company Climatec to install $5.2 million worth of energy- and water-saving equipment, asking for a guarantee that savings would cover 100 percent of the costs of the improvements and related debt services.

Approximately 5,000 San Leandro streetlights were replaced with smart LED streetlights, using Paradox Engineering’s Smart Urban Network as the centralized management and control system. The implementation subsequently supported multiple additional smart city applications and services, such as integrated parking, public wireless internet, and traffic video surveillance. Climatec calculated that the investment would generate $8 million in savings over 15 years through reductions in energy and water use, and $1.5 million in positive cash flow.

Revenue Generation from Smart Lighting Systems

In addition to saving money, smart lighting investments can turn into a revenue generation opportunity for cities. If urban networks are conceived and designed for interoperability,  they are able to host multiple applications and launch public-private collaborations, creating viable opportunities to monetize the data they generate.

Easier Management, Maintenance and Repair

Another benefit of a smart lighting initiative includes centralized management. With all light points connected to the same network, cities can fully monitor and operate luminaires remotely, leveraging a single software platform. This remote monitoring allows for proactive and even real-time detection of lighting failures or above-normal power consumption. Technicians and operators can be sent out only when needed and can arrive onsite informed and properly equipped to address the problem.

Urban Sustainability

Real-world experience by cities leveraging Paradox Engineering’s smart solutions has shown that installing energy-efficient LED lamps can save cities up to 70 percent in both power consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, helping them meet sustainability goals. A further 25 percent of power savings can be made if single or grouped luminaires are remotely managed and controlled via a sentient Internet of Things (IoT) network. This allows cities to take advantage of functionality such as scheduled on/off switching and adaptive dimming.

Improving Livability with Smart Lighting Systems

A centrally managed public lighting system makes a city a more pleasant place to live, work and visit. It supports the beautification of the city and enhances locations and features such as monuments, gardens, and places of interest. At night, it can also foster feelings of social and psychological security and lead to direct reductions in crime and vandalism.

Enabling New Applications

Smart lighting is often the foundational layer for other smart city deployments thanks to interoperability. Applications can be added as they are needed, which is far more convenient and effective than having separate infrastructures – some of which may not integrate – managing urban services one by one. These new applications include video surveillance, traffic monitoring and urban mobility control; public safety and crowd control; environmental sensing for air quality and pollution; smart parking; and better waste collection practices.

Melody Williams
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