7 ways new street lights can solve old challenges

Smart street lights are a great first smart cities project. They’re relatively easy to deploy and they deliver quick, tangible benefits.

But they’re also great platform for other city services. You can start with smart lighting and branch out into other services. What else can you do with your lights? Here are seven great ideas from Current, powered by GE, a Council Global Lead Partner. Consider these as you’re building your smart lighting business case. — Kevin Ebi


By James Benson, GM Global Marketing & Strategic Alliances, Current, powered by GE

Know the actual time when the next bus will arrive. Find an open parking spot without aging a few years. Get safer and timelier responses to 911 calls.

Because of their ever-present footprint, intelligent nodes on streetlight poles offer unprecedented opportunities to deliver solutions for the most lingering needs of citizens. It seems like every week new ideas for potential use cases for intelligent sensor nodes on streetlight poles present themselves. These examples used to be the stuff of science fiction but are now used in smart cities around the world:

  • Smart 911 –First responder portals can display real-time images, audio, videos and location data retrieved from intelligent streetlight nodes during 911 calls to improve situational awareness, enabling public safety officials to locate 911 callers with greater precision, confidence and speed.
  • Smart Urban Furniture - Everyday city objects are turned into smart urban furniture solutions embedded with electronics that deliver public usage data to help decision makers plan for capital improvement, events and urban design projects.
  • Smart Real Estate - Users can now point, click and swipe their way around a virtual 5D smart city model with contextual data, aggregating, analyzing and visualizing millions of data points—from building energy reports to IoT sensor feeds—in a way they can quickly understand project lifecycles.
  • Smart Police Patrol -Thanks to the ubiquitous data captured by the intelligent streetlight nodes, police departments can align their patrol strategies with community priorities. A web-based proactive patrol management system can show officers focus areas to address specific crime risks and tactics for reducing potential harm in their community.
  • Smart Tourism - Real-time data streamed from the infrastructure enabled by intelligent street lights can help cities or regional agencies operate more efficiently by making it easier for citizens, visitors and city workers to explore a city or region's civic resources and services with augmented reality.
  • Smart City App - A “can’t-live-without-it” app for smart cities—using data provided by street lights—can deliver an endless list of citizen services including arrival information on public transportation, access to traffic cameras, alerts, municipal news and events, open pharmacies, prices at gas stations, tourist information and routes, city street guides, shopping, weather forecasts, radars, public Wi-Fi zones, parks, free parking spots, environmental parameters, and local emojis.
  • Smart Parking - Circling endlessly for a parking spot is an annoyance relegated to the past. The data now captured by the intelligent nodes can enable urban mobility with incredible outcomes for citizens, such as providing optimal, real-time navigation to paid and non-paid parking spots. And once parked, the data captured from street lights can identify the vehicle and process payment seamlessly if needed … even allowing citizens to pay for only the time used in a street parking spot. 

Smart cities can improve the lives of citizens and tourists by finally solving lingering needs and annoyances with the help of intelligent streetlight infrastructure. Got an idea of how ubiquitous data captured in your city can be used for the citizens’ good?

James Benson, GM Global Marketing & Strategic Alliances, Current, powered by GE, is passionate about working with cities across the world to solve their toughest challenges.  Connect with James on LinkedIn.