Navigant Research Blog

When 5G Meets Smart Street Lighting

— October 25, 2017

It is increasingly recognized that street lights are valuable city assets that can enable various smart city services and Internet of Things (IoT) strategies. Navigant Research expects the installed base of smart street lights to reach nearly 73 million globally by 2026. One of the many elements connected to realizing the value of smart street lights is supporting the deployment of cellular networks and, in particular, future 5G networks.

What About 5G?

With the continued expansion of IoT, the number of mobile users and connected devices will increase. As subsequent data consumption increases, there will be increasing pressure on network capacity. This has the potential to cause latency problems and possibly dropped services with a detrimental effect on many IoT applications. The next generation of wireless networks will therefore need to handle more traffic at high speeds than today’s LTE networks. 5G is hailed as the solution to these and other challenges, and it promises to bring speeds 20 times faster than the current 4G networks and deliver data with less than a millisecond of delay. Telecommunications companies are aiming to commercialize 5G networks by 2020.

However, the downside of 5G networks is that cellular signals do not travel far and are easily blocked by objects. Therefore, in order to prevent signals from being dropped, 5G networks require many more base stations to relay the signals than the current 4G networks. Fortunately, small cell base stations can solve that problem. These small low power nodes can be easily attached to existing infrastructure such as street light poles and buildings. Given their ubiquity and connection to the electricity network, street light poles are viewed as a particularly effective and increasingly important means to improve the network coverage.

Convergence of Smart Street Lighting and 5G

These requirements for 5G networks are converging with other drivers for smart street lighting. For example, in February 2017, Infineon (a German semiconductor manufacturer) and eluminocity (smart street lighting solutions provider) announced a partnership to develop connected street lights with a scalable sensor hub, connectivity with support for 5G deployment, and data processing.

More recently, Philips announced plans to develop 4G/5G-enabled LED smart light poles with American Tower Corp., a real estate investment trust (REIT) providing communication towers and other transmission real estate. The smart light poles will not only house 5G network gears, but also connect to the Philips’ City Touch, a smart street lighting management platform.

5G Opportunities Expanding

As the smart street lighting deployment increases and 5G networks expand, there will be more opportunities for the two markets to be complementary to each other. To learn more about how smart street lighting can contribute to other city services, see the Navigant Research report Smart Street Lighting for Smart Cities.

 

IoT Provides a Changing Landscape for Lighting

— September 5, 2017

The commercial lighting landscape is shifting these days, giving way to a less siloed market. While historically, lamp and luminaire manufacturers have focused primarily on lamps, the emergence and growth of LEDs with their increased lifespan has led to a stronger market for luminaires, which in turn has negatively affected the lamp market. This has decreased lamp revenue for many incumbent lighting manufacturers.

In order to differentiate themselves within the shifting lighting market, traditional lamp and luminaire manufacturers are looking toward controls and new business use cases. Some use cases provided by lighting controls fall within the Internet of Things (IoT) landscape. Many lighting companies are entering the controls and IoT markets through mergers and acquisitions, rather than focusing solely on internal expansion into those areas.

OSRAM Makes Play toward Increasing IoT Offerings

The German-based lighting manufacturer OSRAM, a spinoff of Siemens in early 2013, has agreed to purchase Digital Lumens. Founded in 2008, the Boston-based industrial and commercial IoT solutions company offers software, products, and systems integration. Digital Lumens’ SiteWorx platform integrates intelligent lighting control, energy use, security systems, and air quality monitoring. The IoT platform will allow OSRAM to strengthen its portfolio for IoT applications. There are currently plans to integrate some of OSRAM’s existing digital services into the platform, such as location-based services utilizing Bluetooth primarily in a retail environment.

Competitive Landscape

While OSRAM has clearly positioned itself to advance its IoT offerings, it faces competition from other lighting incumbents interested in expanding their IoT offerings. Earlier this year, Acuity Brands announced its Atrius Brand, the company’s IoT business solutions portfolio. Atrius provides connectivity through a network of intelligent LED lighting and controls and its software platform that enables indoor positioning, asset tracking, space utilization, spatial analytics, and energy management.

Philips Lighting is also an incumbent that has expanded into this space with its indoor positioning for retail applications and connected lighting for offices utilizing Power over Ethernet (PoE) and SpaceWise wireless technology. Another is Eaton, which has partnered with IoT platform, sensor, and solutions company Enlighted to integrate the company’s hardware, software, and services into Eaton’s LED lighting and controls portfolio.

The technology developments, acquisitions, and partnerships all demonstrate the shifting market and provide a glimpse into the future of commercial lighting. Startups, systems integrators, IT companies, and network providers are mixing with the traditional lighting manufacturers in this market, providing more collaboration and merger and acquisition opportunities. Navigant Research’s upcoming IoT for Lighting report will look at the key players in this industry and provide an overview of the market, including drivers and barriers, technology issues, and a global forecast of hardware, software, and services.

 

Realizing the Potential of Street Lighting Networks

— July 27, 2017

Navigant Research expects 73 million connected street lights to be deployed globally by 2026. This will be an immense asset for cities able to use these smart nodes as part of an emerging city mesh of sensors and smart devices. However, while the potential of smart street lighting is clear, there are still several hurdles to faster adoption. As Richelle Elberg noted in a new Echelon-sponsored white paper, we must examine the complex issues around the network choices facing cities—and technical complexities are only part of the problem. The Echelon white paper and Navigant Research’s recent Smart Street Lighting for Smart Cities report both identify five key messages for cities as they consider their street lighting policy:

  • Consider street lighting upgrades as part of an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy. Any city looking to deploy a street lighting network should at least have an outlined plan for how it will engage with the growth in the use of digital and IoT technologies for city operations and services. How do these developments fit with existing city development strategies? What are the priority local issues and what are the local assets that provide the starting point and make the plan distinct to the needs of this city?
  • Find new ways to collaborate across departments. The potential to add future services to a street lighting network means that coordination across city departments on procurement is essential. Restricting the procurement to the traditional concerns of the lighting department may limit the ability to realize future benefits. Coordination of networking requirements and procurement across multiple city departments—and even involvement of other stakeholders such as local utilities—should be considered.
  • Think about problems first. While there are a wide range of potential use cases for a multi-application network, not all will have the same priority. Just because many applications can be supported on a street lighting network does not mean that all will be equally important to all cities. As a leader of a successful smart city program recently said: “our secret is that we always start with a city problem not a technology.”
  • Understand the diversity of requirements. While integration across departments and the consolidation of requirements is a sensible approach, it is also important to realize that one approach will not satisfy all needs. Most cities are likely to require different communication solutions to address the span of smart city applications, from low risk Living Lab projects, to specific services applications such as street lighting and smart parking, to critical city systems for public safety. The future of city networking will be a hybrid.
  • Recognize that street lights are a city asset. In a world that depends on ubiquitous access to power and connectivity, the street lighting network is a valuable resource. In addition to providing a platform for new sensors and applications to improve the efficiency of city services, they can also be a source of new revenue. Street lighting poles are being used to extend cellular and Wi-Fi access, to integrate EV charging equipment, and as digital signage sites for advertisers.

Where Do We Go from Here?

Installing smart controls for street lighting at the same time as an LED upgrade program is a logical and cost-effective step to enhancing the value of the city lighting system. In 2017, smart street lights represent only about 2% of the installed base of street lights; there is still immense potential for better utilization of these valuable city assets.

Installed Base of Smart Street Lights by Region, World Markets: 2017-2026

(Source: Navigant Research)

For further detail on smart city applications, street lighting as a platform, and the relevant connectivity platforms, see the Navigant Research white paper, Smart Street Lighting as a Smart City Platform. The Executive Summary from the Smart Street Lighting for Smart Cities report is also available.

 

Smart Street Lights Shine on Further Advancements in Lighting Innovation

— June 9, 2017

Smart street lighting is growing as a platform for smart city applications, and cities are increasingly seeing the benefits of smart street lighting deployment. The rise of LEDs, in large part due to their increased energy savings, longer life, and declining prices, has launched the connected street lighting market. Companies are working together to help drive innovation and continue the momentum of smart street lighting and smart city adoption.

Driving Innovation

Even with the benefits of LEDs and increased control and data available through a smart street lighting system, there are still hurdles to overcome for widespread adoption. The Smart Cities Council, a global consortium of smart city experts and companies, is working to promote sustainable smart cities that provide clean and healthy living conditions and high quality jobs. The Smart Cities Council has more than 120 members and is continually expanding its presence. In May, Telensa, a specialist in connected street lighting, joined the Smart Cities Council as a North America Lead Partner. The company will work toward the goals of the organization of advancing the development of smart cities. Lead Partners, along with Global Lead Partners, provide financial support and help guide the Smart Cities Council’s actions either regionally or globally, based on partnership level. Global Lead Partners include Cisco, Hitachi, IBM, Microsoft, Schneider Electric, Current, powered by GE, Itron, Sensus, Qualcomm, and SAS Institute, among others.

Providing a Smart City through Lighting

Several cities have started to invest in smart street lighting, which are further advanced than LEDs and have the benefits of increased control and artificial intelligence. The city of Spokane, Washington is one of the latest cities to deploy smart street lights. It is using vision control traffic-adaptive LED street lights with artificial intelligence from Echelon—a developer of open standards control networking platform for lighting and building management. Echelon’s lighting platform transmits traffic information to help reduce response time and improve reliability. Each unit, deployed on traffic intersection street lights, will determine light levels based on traffic volume and reduce or increase light levels accordingly.

Lighting and technology vendors are working to advance their offerings to create a smart street lighting platform that can be utilized as the foundation for a smart city. Though many offerings are currently available on the market, further advancement and price declines will help with continued adoption of smart street lighting systems. Partnerships between lighting and technology providers and utilities, as well as organizations such as the Smart Cities Council, are continuing to advance smart street lighting. This relatively young industry is worth monitoring as it continues to experience growth.

 

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