Lighting the Way to Smarter Cities

Lighting the Way to Smarter Cities

This piece was originally published in the April 2018 issue of electroindustry.

Harsha Banavara, Cybersecurity Technical Policy Manager, Philips Lighting

Traditionally, cities’ streets and public areas rely almost entirely on conventional lighting that has remained more or less the same for decades. However, with the recent advancement in light-emitting diode (LED) technology and digital light, it is increasingly easy and exceedingly beneficial to improve energy efficiency and reduce operational costs through connected lighting.

With the proliferation of devices connected to the internet, public lighting infrastructure is being transformed into an information pathway to smart city capabilities and services that can realize additional value beyond just illumination. Increasingly, many city councils and municipalities are leveraging the benefits of Internet of Things (IoT) applications to make their cities more livable, resilient, sustainable, and prosperous.

Similar to many other metropolises in the world, Los Angeles contends with pervasive issues that range from constrained budgets and growing populations to aging infrastructure and the accelerating pace of innovation. What sets the city apart, however, is daring to try new things. LA is at the forefront of smart city innovations with a vision for how technology can adapt to the way people and communities interact with their city.

For example, its lighting infrastructure is among the largest in the world and one of the city’s most valuable assets. By not only converting its street lights to LED but also intelligently monitoring and managing them with a connected lighting control system, street lighting affords more value to citizens, visitors, and local businesses in addition to providing illumination.

LA has expanded its smart city capabilities by leveraging its connected street lighting infrastructure to actively monitor and manage noise levels on the streets. Using pole-mounted sensors and software to collect, share, and analyze the data, the city is taking a qualitative and quantitative approach to help improve public safety and support city services.

Since data is available via the cloud, the power of big data and analytics visualization software creates both real-time and historical timelines, along with map and list views of code violations and alerts. Such visualizations help the city not only maintain code compliance, assess urban policy, and respond adequately to noise complaints but also facilitate additional dialogue with internal and external domain experts.

As a result of the efforts underway in LA, these innovations have reduced the city’s energy usage for street lighting by over 63 percent, saving at least $9.5 million annually in operational and maintenance costs.

While LA is a great example of the evolving applications that can be delivered through a connected lighting infrastructure, these are just the tip of the smart city and IoT iceberg. Several new innovations and applications are being developed, such as fault monitoring and predictive maintenance, designed to help cities improve safety and livability.

The city is an archetype for other cities to emulate and reflects what is possible when cities invest in and embrace new technologies that enable them to do things that were impossible to imagine even a decade ago.


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