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Poles apart: Five cities putting smart streetlights to new uses

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The humble lamppost is getting a lot of attention these days from cities around the world. The reason? It’s the recognition that today, the poles that hold streetlights aloft can be so much more besides. They can be smart poles.

For example, a streetlight can also be an environmental monitoring station, a WiFi hotspot, a charging station for electric vehicles, or an ideal site to position security or traffic management cameras.

Smart poles are all about increasing urban efficiency, while at the same time keeping the clutter of street furniture to a minimum. Because they can incorporate software controls, and sensors that can receive and transmit information, they support all kinds of smart city applications.

Here are five cities getting a head start on smart poles.

1. Huntington Beach, US

At Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona last week, it was announced that the City of Huntington Beach, California, will be the first city to deploy Smart Fusion Poles, developed by partners Philips Lighting and American Tower Corporation (ATC). The Smart Fusion Poles will be rolled out in 200 existing light pole locations across the city, and act not just as high-quality LED lampposts, but also as concealed antennas for increased wireless broadband connectivity.

2. Sydney, Australia

With the official switch-on of 40 Smart Node poles across 63 acres of the Sydney Harbour foreshore on 8 February, millions of annual visitors to the city’s Royal Botanic Garden and Domain will now have access to free high-speed Wi-Fi.

The Royal Botanic Garden worked with telecoms company Optus and Smart Node maker Ene.Hub to deliver the infrastructure. Each Smart Node includes energy-efficient LED lighting and beacons, ranger-assist push buttons, general-purpose power points, and electric vehicle charge points. The Wi-Fi can be used by visitors to access the new Royal Botanic Garden, as seen in the video below:

3. New Delhi, India

In New Delhi, the municipal council has embarked on a smart pole project to provide LED lighting, Wi-FI connectivity, air pollution sensors, and CCTV cameras, according to a report in the New Indian Express.

The first phase of the project, due to conclude this month, will see 55 smart poles installed, of which 15 went into operation back in December. “These 9-12 metre high poles, being installed on a private/public partnership model, will provide robust coverage of the area with real-time data related to environment, traffic, security and other useful information,” New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) spokesperson MS Sherawat told the newspaper. “The CCTV data will be sent to the NDMC control room and will be helpful in responding to situations more efficiently.”

4. Dubai, UAE

In September 2017, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) announced that it had signed a deal with French lighting company Ragni Group to design and implement smart lighting poles in the first quarter of 2018, to support Dubai’s development of smart city infrastructure.

According to DEWA CEO Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, the smart poles will support  “smart and green mobility, autonomous driving, Wi-Fi, Internet of Things, energy-saving lighting, environmental intelligence, and other innovative features that streamline the smart city transformation” – although presumably, not all at once.

5. Hongze County, China

When Chinese lighting specialist Shanghai Sansi announced the installation of more than 3,000 smart streetlights in Hongze County, Jiangsu Province in mid-2016, the company claimed this was China’s biggest smart pole system. It may still be. Other than providing street lighting, the smart poles offer Wi-Fi, battery-charging for electric vehicles, environmental monitoring, security cameras, and digital signage that can display public safety, travel, or weather information.

Read more: Philips Lighting looks at city life in 2035

Internet of Business says

These cities may be early adopters, but others seem likely to follow their example. That’s good news for smart lighting providers, because the prospect of adding new applications to smart lighting infrastructure over time is a powerful selling point for their products.

Accordingly, many are buddying up with other companies on smart pole partnerships. Philips Lighting, for example, produces smart poles with Ericsson as well as with American Tower Corporation, as detailed in the Huntington Beach example, above.

5G take-up looks set to be a powerful driver of smart poles, meanwhile. According to Navigant Research analyst Christina Sookyung Jung, writing in a blog post back in October, “It is increasingly recognised that street lights are valuable city assets that can enable various smart city services and Internet of Things strategies.”

Navigant Research, she notes, expects the worldwide installed base of smart streetlights to reach nearly 73 million by 2026. “One of the many elements connected to realising the value of smart street lights is supporting the deployment of cellular networks and, in particular, future 5G networks,” she observes, concluding: “As smart street lighting deployment increases and 5G networks expand, there will be more opportunities for the two markets to be complementary to each other.”

Internet of Business likes

We like this innovative project in which smart street lights use sensors to adapt lighting to ambient conditions, such as moonlight, cutting down on unnecessary light pollution and blocking out less of the night sky. And we like this clever project, in which smart street lights have been developed to kill disease-carrying mosquitos (photo, below).



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