solar-power Smart Cities: Connectivity is Everything

New street lighting ecosystem

En the new Smart Cities, connectivity is the king. And connectivity starts with lighting.

Nowadays, when connected lighting replaces conventional lighting, the public lighting with which we are familiar, is becoming an innovation platform. According to Gartner, "18% of street / pedestrian lighting in urban areas will be connected in 5 years, starting at 3% in 2018." It is emerging as the technological base of a complete urban project ecosystem that will transform how people relate to their environments.

Smart Lighting provides the perfect infrastructure for the urban Internet of Things (IOT). Lighting poles can power a wide range of IoT devices, and they are already distributed around the city. The fact that they are typically positioned on the streets means that they are already very well positioned to install sensors to measure movement under them, and a range of conditions and other data, within an urban area. In these cases, lighting connected throughout the cities works as an ideal architecture to host a communication network to support IoT applications for both today and the future.

Everything is fine for the moment. But for this connected lighting ecosystem to really work, coordinated efforts from different stakeholders are required, including engineers, system integrators, luminaire providers, IoT system providers, and communication system providers - not to mention government authorities and municipalities. This is why it is crucial to be able to work with suppliers that can cover a number of competencies established by the demands of a connected lighting system.

Building the Ecosystem

Here are the elements you need to master when you plan to carry out transformative connected lighting projects:

Hardware: Connected luminaires are just the beginning. Urban IoT projects usually need access to a deep expertise of IoT devices, as well. These include sensors, cameras, microphones, and navigation equipment.

Software: Technology initiatives for Smart Cities require a comprehensive IoT platform that can provide a consistent and scalable base for both pilot projects and initiatives and situations that no one could prevent. You also need a comprehensive control dashboard for administrators, and possibly advise developing applications for users, so that these administrators can use them day by day.

Communication and network infrastructures: According to Gartner, "System integrators and global luminaire manufacturers are the perfect allies to carry out modernization initiatives for city administrators; CSPs are mentioned as allies in only 16% of the projects of intelligent lighting since the beginning of 2016. " The Smart City ecosystem needs reliable connectivity and adequate bandwidth to thrive. Find allies who can advise you on the right mix of cellular communication systems, Wi-Fi and short-range IoT communications, to ensure consistent and fluid communications.

Data storage and analysis: A well-equipped Smart City generates a wealth of information that municipalities or city administrators can use to improve quality of life. Sensor data indicating when the streets are congested and when they are not, it can clearly lead to a smarter lighting provision for certain areas of the city, adjusting the discharge power (dimmer) when there is no one, saving on energy and money. But there is much more than just that. Air quality sensor data can inform public health initiatives. Data on car flow patterns, parking places, peak congestion hours, and even air velocity and humidity levels can help develop initiatives that help improve the quality of life in cities.

But these opportunities are lost if IoT sensors cannot report this data to repositories with easily accessible analysis tools. The result: it is necessary to work with data and analytics providers that understand how to handle hundreds or thousands of new sources of information that can be used, generating insights on which to work.

Electricity distribution networks and public services: In many cities, lighting is already provided in partnership with, or as a service, by public operators or distribution providers. The relationship of municipalities with these operators has typically originated in an era of low-tech lighting. These relationships may need rectifications or adjustments. Working with partners who understand the services that distribution network operators deliver can be valuable. First, it can help to give new form and an improvement to the cost structure of the project. Second, it can lead to the correct identification of responsibilities between electric companies and public sector.

System integration: A system integrator who has experience with the chosen interconnected lighting fixture, your IoT platform, your system's data repository, and your network providers can help you reduce implementation times and reduce time to benefit.

Room to grow and change

The right provider knows how to build spaces within the lighting ecosystem so that projects can change and grow. This is important, as technologies for Smart Cities usually inspire new initiatives after they are launched.

An ecosystem that changes, grows and adapts, on the other hand, is one that is more likely to please the last participant in a connected lighting project: its users. As these Smart Cities initiatives become public knowledge, citizens become more empowered and interested in the projects that affect their communities. As a sign of these times, Cardiff, capital of Wales, effectively put a vote of its citizens before selecting the color temperature for its new public street lights.

Building a connected luminaires network at city level is a fundamental step in creating a communications network that can support IoT applications of today and into the future. This is also an intense initiative, which requires coordination of a large number of stakeholders.

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