Smart Solar Street Lights Spread With IoT Adoption

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The role of the once lonely street light has been heavily rewritten so that it now serves as a major information gateway, runs on solar power, and is sensing and reporting far more than you might imagine. Indeed, the global market for the smart street light is projected at $18 billion per year by 2024. While that number may sound hard to believe, the next time you drive under a carport or walk across an intersection, just look up.

Smart solar lighting systems that include video and other sensing capabilities can measure pedestrian activity and traffic patterns, air quality monitoring, and can provide video surveillance for security — or issue traffic tickets. Solar lighting and smart lighting are quickly merging into smart solar lighting in a host of applications.

Image: Clear Blue

Atlanta’s newly $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium is said to be the greenest sports arena in the world, having earned Platinum LEED certification. While the roof and entrances of the stadium sport solar panels, the carports feature solar-powered lighting that generates 617 kilowatt-hours of energy per year.

Smart streetlights also save huge amounts of money for municipalities, counties, and states. The city of Syracuse, for example, is purchasing the more than 17,500 street lights from Bedford, MA-based Cimcon that will deliver more than $3 million in annual savings to its operating budget, based on maintenance and energy efficiencies. Part of the upgrade also includes the installation of a network that connects every light to a central operating system.

Cimcon says its NearSky lighting systems are designed for LED, solar, and HID-based lamps, using RF-Wireless technology to connect 7-pin ANSI compliant controllers to a web-based Central Management System (CMS) via a wireless gateway. This technology allowing cities, towns and municipalities to quickly and easily manage all of their street and roadway lighting assets on one platform.

Smart solar streetlights are an even better combination of technologies. Toronto, for example, will be hosting 40 solar-powered street lights along Bloor Street West that will also add Wi-Fi for the area, and will feature banners promoting Bloor West Village. Clear Blue Technologies will provide its Smart Off-Grid smart city lighting system for the project.

“Despite its location on Bloor Street West, one of the busiest streets in Toronto, access to grid power is prohibitively expensive,” said David Howitt, chairman of the Bloor West Village Business Improvement Association (BIA), in a statement. “It was therefore imperative that the lights were equipped with an off-grid solution capable of powering this critical infrastructure,” he said. Funding for the project was split between the City of Toronto and the BIA.

Clear Blue reports that 18 municipalities in Ontario have installed the company’s Illumience brand lighting systems, for a variety of uses including roadways, downtown areas, residential streets, parks, and signage, at over 40 different locations.

Off-grid solar street and roadway lighting is particularly attractive for jurisdictions with limited access to the grid. Cleveland Power and Light’s (CPP) Street Light Bureau, the largest municipally owned electric utility in the state of Ohio, manages approximately 67,000 street lights. Despite its best efforts, the utility receives over 15,000 complaints per year about lighting. CPP began an upgrade program for its lighting system several years ago in a pilot with 1,000 LED lights from 15 vendors and lighting control systems from two vendors.

Cimcon lists the features of its NearSky control system as including:

  • Remote Control and Scheduling
  • GPS integration for easy asset management
  • Flexible Dimming Controls
  • Revenue Grade Energy Metering
  • Asset Management and Health Monitoring
  • Fault Tolerant
  • Alert Notifications via email and SMS text messages
  • Burn Hours Monitoring & Reporting
  • 128/256 bit AES encryption between all devices for optimal security
  • The benefits of these features include a reduction in energy cost by at least 30% through adaptive dimming and 50% reduced repair costs.

In 2018, Cimcon expanded its global footprint, shipping more than double the number of lighting controllers compared to the previous year and expanding its customer footprint to 150 cities across 24 countries, including first-time shipments to the countries of the Bahamas, Columbia, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. During the year, CIMCON participated in multiple large-scale strategic projects, including projects for the city of Chicago, Brazilian public lighting company BHIP, Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OGE), and ComEd.

Clear Blue Technologies provides reliable, low-cost, off-grid power for lighting, telecom, security, Internet of Things devices, and other critical systems. The company’s Smart Off-Grid system includes a solar or solar-hybrid controller, a built-in communications network, and Illumience. Illumience is a cloud application and management service, delivering remote control, management, and proactive servicing of off-grid systems. Clear Blue systems are in 35 countries, 24 U.S. states, and 8 Canadian provinces.

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