Navigant Research Blog

Smart Street Lights a Key Platform for Smart City Infrastructure

Ryan Citron — December 2, 2016

The city lamppost is increasingly recognized as a valuable asset that can support a range of smart city applications beyond smart street lighting. There are significant benefits to be had from smart lighting deployments, considering that networked LED street lights can offer 65%-75% energy savings for cities. However, the full benefit of the lamppost is reached when it can act as infrastructure for multiple smart city applications. These additional applications can include air quality monitoring, security alerts, parking and traffic management, electronic signage, mesh Wi-Fi services, and more.

New York-based startup Totem Power recently unveiled its Totem platform for smart city projects, which combines communications infrastructure with energy infrastructure. The company’s prototype lamppost platform is powered by solar energy and supplemented by battery storage to provide capabilities such as Wi-Fi, 4G communications, and EV charging, in addition to traditional smart street lighting services. The first Totem street light model is expected to be released in summer 2017.

Totem Power’s Smart City Platform

Smart Lighting

(Source: Totem Power, Inc.)

Established Suppliers Utilizing Street Lights as a Platform

There is also an increasing recognition by more established players in the market that smart street lighting can serve as the foundational infrastructure for a variety of smart city technology deployments. Panasonic recently entered into a partnership with LED streetlight provider Schréder to integrate its sensors, cameras, and software applications into the company’s luminaires in an effort to transform existing lighting infrastructure into an integrated smart city platform.

Siemens is planning a new smart parking system both within existing smart street lighting infrastructure and in combination with traffic management applications. In addition to detecting open parking spots, Siemens’ overhead radar sensors (in development) are expected to measure speed and traffic conditions, detect parking violations, and detect the flow of pedestrians. Sensity (acquired by Verizon in September 2016) is also combining smart street lighting with other applications, namely with its NetSense smart parking solution. This integrated application enables owners and parking operators to increase parking revenue while simultaneously achieving additional cost savings associated with LED lighting. Established smart street lighting provider Silver Spring Networks has also been active in using street lights as a platform.

Benefits Too Large to Ignore

Using smart street lighting as a platform for other smart city applications provides benefits to both cities and suppliers. Cities can save on infrastructure costs through the integration of several applications within existing street light infrastructure, resulting in lower average project costs (per application) and additional valuable services being provided to its citizens. This approach offers the potential for added revenue streams (for both cities and suppliers) related to the lampposts. Suppliers offering the delivery of multiple services through street light infrastructure have the potential to increase revenue through recurring software fees, since services such as advanced analytics will be increasingly important under a multiple service model.

Cities are increasingly demanding services and products that can be shared across departments, not in siloes. Suppliers offering a variety of services that can be delivered cost-effectively through existing street light infrastructure are likely to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

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