The Proliferation of Smart Cities and its Impact on Lighting Systems|
Article - July 30, 2018 By LarsonElectronics.com
The Proliferation of Smart Cities and its Impact on Lighting Systems
According to urban location analysts, by 2030 around 60 percent of the world’s population will be living in mega cities. To serve the influx of people in such locations, cities are being transformed to become smarter, more efficient and autonomous.
Classified as “smart cities,” these locations are powered by intelligent networks and infrastructure. Before the proliferation of smart cities, almost all city components were manually controlled and separated from each other. For instance, traditional traffic lights are monitored manually; and in the event of malfunction, the issue is reported by a resident to the relevant city department. A representative then sends out a technician to assess and fix the traffic light. Such painstakingly slow and redundant processes are being streamlined to reduce operational downtimes.
In smart cities, traffic lights are connected to city networks. Should a unit malfunction, a program that monitors the status of the traffic lights sends a notification to an operator who oversees the entire system in real-time. The system then automatically locates the nearest available technician and sends him or her information regarding the status of the malfunctioning light. In this scenario, human intervention is greatly minimized and “always on” networks are leveraged to monitor critical city infrastructure 24/7.
Smart City Trends
Automation is the overall goal of smart cities. By reducing human operators, errors and oversights are curtailed. Since robots never get tired, performance and productivity rates remain constant, even during holiday periods.
Creating the lighting system of the future requires forming strategic collaborations between previously unrelated sectors. To create products that are underpinned by city networks and cutting-edge algorithms, lighting manufacturers must work with tech giants that are developing smart city infrastructural components, which can come from automotive, financial technology (fintech) and telecom – just to name a few. These groups will work with city officials and developers to hone and pilot new smart city protocols before their final release.
An example of such partnerships is Kansas City and Cisco. In 2017, the city invested $15 million in smart city street-lighting projects. The unlikely duo launched a pilot program that establishes a two-mile roadway filled with 125 smart LED street lights, sensors and Wi-Fi. Equipped with robust sensors, the street lights gather environmental data, which is used to create a live map of the location. The presence of cars, traffic speeds and location of vacant parking spaces are all monitored in real-time. This information is used to improve city performance, allowing city operators to setup lighting systems based on local activity.
A smart city trial in Wipperfürth, Germany is currently operating a similar pilot program, which was launched in January 2017. Researchers are taking things a step further by transmitting local, environmental data to nearby smartphones of residents via Bluetooth. Instead of street lights, the trial incorporates several LED pillars or sidewalk lamps. The lighting structures feature bright LED components with RGB capabilities for illumination and wireless sensors for data transmission. Accessing the pillar electronically provides individuals with information related to local shops, parking spaces, directions and emergency notifications.
IoT and Smart Infrastructure
In smart cities, lights are capable of interacting with a wide range of smart devices. As part of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) movement, luminaries will be connected to other components of the ecosystem, including cars, watches, clothes, commercial parking garages, stores and more. The role that lights play is critical to just about every IoT device or structure in smart cities. Fixtures will be incorporated with system notifications for products and services. For instance, a smartphone shopping app that is connected to an individual’s desk lamp through the cloud could “tell” the light to change colors every time an order is placed. On the road, a car’s headlights could switch to a more powerful setting, the moment a traffic portal a couple of miles down the road senses dark conditions. This type of communication is facilitated through vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) or vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) networks.
Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Communication
For lighting manufacturers, preparation for smart lighting systems must start as early as possible. The current state of IoT and smart cities is very nascent, as scaling solutions for smart cities is extremely complicated and expensive. For industrial sectors, the main focus of development for smart lighting products is M2M communication. By definition, this refers to eliminating human intervention between two machines using digital networks. A simple example includes a fixture with a motion detector that is connected to a metal cutting machine via a private network. The moment the luminary senses the presence of a worker, it automatically turns on the light and notifies the machine to warm up autonomously – without needing to manually flip or turn a switch. When the worker leaves the space, the system powers down autonomously, making operations more energy efficient.
Communication and data transfers between two machines are facilitated using sensors, Wi-Fi, RFID, Bluetooth and more. Compared to human-to-human (H2H) communication, scaling M2M networks is significantly more difficult, as such protocols are designed to handle more orders, data and nodes. Furthermore, M2M communication could one day be designed to replace human workers tasked with redundant, everyday work – such as managing inventory or approving requests.
Smart City Lighting Case Studies
In a case study published by Chicago officials, researchers documented the benefits and efficiency rates of smart street lights around the city. The network cited in the white paper includes a group of 800 smart street lights. During the trials, the fixtures were all equipped with sensors and connected to the local network. By monitoring the status of the lights and their surrounding environment, scientists estimated a whopping 65 percent decrease in maintenance and energy consumption.
On the other side of the world, researchers from Paris conducted a similar case study on smart street lights, this time consisting of 200,000 units across the city. Leveraging an IPv6-based multi-application network to bring all of the components together, the lights were equipped with sensors and were used for smart parking, electric vehicle charging, electricity metering and water allocation.
Lastly, a case study released by the City of Ottawa focused on the use of smart monitoring systems, which includes smart infrared LEDs. In the study, researchers deployed smart security systems in Cahill Park, consisting of motion detectors, speakers, DVRs and non-visible infrared lights. During times of questionable activity at night, the system autonomously turned on and started recording. Footage was sent through the network to human operators for identification and tracking from a safe distance. Since the installation of the smart security system, reports of criminal activity in the area fell to zero.