How lighting is getting smarter, brighter and greener

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Councils are driving the change towards brighter, smarter cities through the widespread use of multifunctional council assets, writes Smart Lighting Summit producer, Kushlani Premachandra

By moving beyond the simple feature of lighting public spaces, communities are able to reduce energy consumption while increasing the list of available services.

In the US, the city of Los Angeles is in the midst of testing smart city technologies. Having recently implemented 30,000 Philips CityTouch units, the council’s lights possess monitoring capabilities and the ability to remotely dim and increase illumination levels.

Kerney R Marine, assistant director of the Bureau of Street Lighting in Los Angeles, will speak about the city’s advancements at the Australian Smart Lighting Summit later this year. Dissecting the realised benefits of HID (high density discharge) to LED (light emitting diode) conversion, Marine will explore the past, present and future smart city infrastructure of Los Angeles.

With the application of such diverse technology, the city’s street lighting design follows the IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America) recommended illumination levels.

“We currently do not dim below those recommended levels, but are investigating possible dimming during power saving or emergency situations from our local utility, the LA department of water and power,” says Marine.

While the system holds the traditional monitoring capability and the ability to dim and increase illumination remotely, Marine explains there is more to come.

The city is also testing technology that allows for the temporary remote increase in lighting levels around sporting and night-time venue areas during public events. With the addition of particular features to street light fixtures, including environmental sensors, meter readers, Wi-Fi, Li-Fi, electric vehicle charging stations, billboards (both traditional and digital) and CCTV cameras, Los Angeles can look forward to a host of new and exciting smart lighting developments.

“The challenge is to simplify and consolidate technologies and equipment, while contending with data management and ownership, propriety information and technology and coordination between all impacted parties, including the general public and adjacent property owners,” says Marine.

In the land of Oz

Ownership and regulation of street lighting assets is a global challenge. In Australia, each state or territory has sought to retain ownership of the lighting fixtures within its corresponding council.

Adam Beck, executive director of Australia New Zealand Smart Cities Council, states that when nationally implementing smart assets the biggest obstacle is governance.

Representing the ANZ division of the Smart Cities Council, Beck will present on the possibilities of utilising smart lighting as a foundation for a smart city. By seeking change at a local level, councils open themselves up to a plethora of new possibilities that allow for the integration of relevant technology.

“Ownership, operation and leadership – this is going to be a long play, requiring significant advocacy, negotiation and regulatory reform. Cities need to ensure that any investment in technology and data solutions is meaningful for them, and contributes to achieving their aspirations, corporate goals and operational targets,” says Beck.

This investment should also include liveability metrics or indicators in order to ensure an efficient and sustainable solution that will provide for future generations to come, while still benefiting the community in real time.

When comparing Australia’s national standing with international developments, the nation is quite progressive, though there is still a long way to go.

“We certainly have world leading talent, technology and entrepreneurialism, and have the potential to be a net exporter in smart city solutions to the world. In terms of smart city readiness, at a local government level, we are getting better every day,” says Beck.

“They tend to have a clear plan, are resourcing their smart cities efforts with staff and have committed funds to deploy, test and transform their practices in light of the outcomes.”

Seeking council

Examining our standing within a current smart city infrastructure allows us to see how far we have come and how much further we have to go. And an important part of that infrastructure is utilising the assets that we have available.

An existing street light fixture can house dozens of sensors – technology that will allow for the monitoring of anything and everything.

“Technically, we can sense anything, and therefore gather data on those conditions. However, there have been some key issues that have challenged us and slowed our actions in data gathering. This includes issues around privacy and transparency, which continue to be important issues we need to discuss openly with the community,” explains Beck.

In order to continue steady development, councils must maintain a certain level of dialogue with the public, as state- and territory-owned utilities hold an integral role in driving the demand for smart lighting progression. This goes hand in hand with the desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a sustainable landscape.

Adam Beck and Kerney R. Marine will be joined by other expert speakers at the seventh annual Australian Smart Lighting Summit on 28 to 29 August at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. The event will touch on key project updates, case studies and international advancements.


Image credit: 123rf’s Peter De Kievith ©

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