Smart streetlights are getting smarter. Most streetlights are already equipped with photocells that prompt them to switch on as the natural light fades. Many cities have begun upgrading their streetlights from HPS (high-wattage high pressure sodium) to low-wattage LED. This helps control costs, which benefits the taxpayers. East Rockaway, New York, installed their LED upgrades at no cost, thanks to Johnson Controls. LEDs also drastically reduce environmental impact.
Smarter streetlights are appearing on streets across The United States. For instance, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the city replaced 26,000 streetlights with Sensus smart lights, connected by a FlexNet network. The lights issue an immediate alert when maintenance is needed (instead of requiring visual confirmation) and the output for each light can be independently controlled. This saves energy and can also promote safety. The light output is increased when stores and bars close, or if the police receive reports of suspicious activity near a specific unit. These lights could eventually be used to monitor traffic flow, brighten or dim for first responders at an accident, or serve as WiFi hotspots.
In Kansas City, Missouri, as part of their participation in the Department of Transportation’s Smart City contest, the city has installed smart streetlights that dim when no one is underneath them. The lights are produced by Sensity Systems and are also able to detect large crowds, which help allocate law enforcement resources and map future economic development. The data is anonymized, according to Bob Bennett, KC’s chief innovation officer, so theoretically no one’s privacy is at risk. Additionally, the city has installed publicly accessible Sprint WiFi hubs and a streetcar line. Looks like Rodgers and Hammerstein were right: everything is up to date in Kansas City.
These new infrastructure developments have the potential to create installation and maintenance jobs, as well as making roadwork safer for night construction crews.