Intelligent street lighting

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Intelligent street lighting refers to public street lighting that adapts to movement by pedestrians, cyclists and cars. Intelligent street lighting, also referred to as adaptive street lighting, dims when no activity is detected, but brightens when movement is detected. This type of lighting is different from traditional, stationary illumination, or dimmable street lighting that dims at pre-determined times.

History (Europe):

The first patent requests for intelligent street lighting stem from the late 1990s.[1] But it wasn’t until April 7, 2006, that Europe experienced the first large scale implementation of a control network in a street lighting application. The implementation took place in Oslo (Norway) and it was expected to reduce energy usage by 50 percent, improve roadway safety, and minimize maintenance costs.[2]

The Oslo project triggered interest from other cities in Europe, and formed the basis for other sustainability initiatives, such as the E-Street initiative. This research group focused on ways to reduce energy usage in outdoor lighting systems in the European Union (EU). The E-Street group strongly influenced EU standards and legislation for intelligent outdoor lighting systems.[3]

Features:

Street lights can be made intelligent by placing cameras or sensors on them, which enables them to detect movement. Additional technology enables the street lights to communicate with one another. Different companies have different variations to this technology. When a passer-by is detected by a camera or sensor, it will communicate this to neighboring street lights, which will brighten so that people are always surrounded by a safe circle of light.[4]

Control:

Some companies also offer software with which the street lights can be monitored and managed wirelessly. Clients, or other companies, can access the software from a computer, or even a tablet. From this software, they can gather data, pre-set levels of brightness and dimming time; receive warning signals when a light defects.

Benefits:

The benefits of this type of technology are:[5]

  • Energy savings: energy use and costs decline, because the lights dim at night when there is low activity.
  • Maintenance cost reduction: maintenance costs are reduced because it takes more time before the lamps have to be replaced.
  • Reduction in CO₂ emissions: with this energy reduction comes a reduction in CO₂ emissions.[6]
  • Reduction of light pollution: light pollution is reduced, because the street lights don’t shine at full brightness anymore. Street scenes become calmer looking.[7]
  • Maintenance of safety: safety is maintained, because the lights are dimmed, not turned off completely. One might even argue safety improves because it becomes clear from far away when movement is approaching (the lights brighten).