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    Street lighting for smart cities: wins and trends

     

    February 8, 2021

     

    A recent Signify webinar with NYPA and Guidehouse Insights discussed the trends for street lighting that will be smartening our cities in 2021 and beyond.

     

    From Shanghai to Seattle, cities are booming. As the world’s population rises, half of us have made our homes in the world’s great metropolises. By 2050, that number will rise to two-thirds.

     

    In a recent Signify webinar, three expert speakers highlighted the wins and trends that will shape our urban lives in the future: Eric Woods, Research Director at industry analyst firm Guidehouse Insights; Kevin Luteran, Smart Street Lighting NY Program Manager at NYPA, and Eng Yong Liang, Global Subsegment Director for Cities at Signify.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has made a difference – but not in the way you might expect

     

    The pandemic may have slowed down the implementation of some existing smart city programs, but it has also caused a shift in the way cities make priorities, favoring projects with far-reaching benefits. In the short term, municipalities are prioritizing health and making sure there is safe access to transportation, hospitality, retail and social services. In the long term, they’re considering how to use their post-pandemic recovery plans to build back better. As a proven and cost-effective upgrade, a shift to smart LED street lighting makes a strong first move.


    Eric Woods, Research Director at Guidehouse Insights, explains more. “As cities think about their recovery strategies, they are also thinking about their aspirational priorities. It's been heartening to see so many cities committing to building back greener and cleaner, and taking opportunities to address climate change and other environmental issues. And they're also making the commitment to build back in a more socially just and equitable way.”

    It's been heartening to see so many cities committing to building back greener and cleaner, and taking opportunities to address climate change and other environmental issues."

    Eric highlights the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement, along with the recognition of disparities in health outcomes linked to issues like inequality in housing and digital access.

     

    “Smart City programs have to be aligned to these priorities. We also have to deliver ways of thinking about how technology is deployed to deliver holistic solutions that tackle multifaceted city problems. A decade or more ago, we talked about this as being the goal of the most ambitious smart city programs. Now it is a priority factor that will be embedded in many of the programs.

     

    “We are starting to see a number of ambitious stimulus and recovery programs being announced that could further accelerate street lighting projects as they are well aligned with goals like digitalization of the city’s infrastructure and reduction in emissions, while also offering a strong financial incentive.”

    Smart poles light the way to wider smart city initiatives

     
    “One of smart street lighting’s unique attributes is that it's based around a very strong business case,” explains Eric Woods. “The energy efficiency and savings that come from upgrading to LED help to financially underpin smart lighting deployments. There’s a very strong case for modernizing street lighting, and a very clear return on investment model.”
     

    But cost is not the only factor.

     

    “Beyond the cost savings and energy efficiency improvements, there is the functionality and capabilities enabled by the street lighting network. Building that connectivity also lays out additional infrastructure for the city that allows other applications in areas such as traffic management, air quality monitoring, and public safety to make use of that platform. It gives cities a way into thinking about a broader Internet of Things (IoT) environment. It also aligns with a broader set of developments around city connectivity, whether that's WiFi, IoT mesh networks for the expansion of 4G and 5G capabilities into the system.”

    Infographic showing the evolution of smart street lighting in smart cities
    Source: Guidehouse Insights
    Signify’s Yong Liang Eng gives further examples. “Interact City is our solution for the lighting vertical in a smart city ecosystem, but it coexists alongside other verticals to create better overall outcomes. For example, an incident detection surveillance camera, linked to a smart city dashboard, can command the smart street lighting system to turn up the lights on the ground at the site of an incident, and at the same time, deploy public services towards the location. Such sensors can be attached directly to the streetlight. Since streetlights are assets that are spread all across the city, we can build up a very granular picture of environmental conditions like ambient noise or temperatures across the city. This data can be used by city planners when considering where to plant trees or create sunshades or cooling shelters, enhancing a city’s livability and improving public health outcomes.” 

    An incident detection surveillance camera, linked to a smart city dashboard, can command the smart street lighting system to turn up the lights on the ground at the site of an incident, and at the same time, deploy public services towards the location. Such sensors can be attached directly to the streetlight."

    Finance is still a barrier, but there are innovative solutions

     
    With demonstrable benefits, and a clear path towards wider smart city initiatives, why are some cities continuing to rely on older technologies?
     

    Eric Woods explains that the biggest barrier is still finance. “It’s not surprising when talking about municipalities and local governments. Some cities don’t have the capacity or appetite to take on the finance, even when there are schemes available to help. But some of the emerging programs are going to be really helpful for this. For example, in the UK, there is a national program to help cities get access to project finance for street lighting upgrades.”

     

    Kevin Luteran explains how NYPA helps communities find a way through the challenge of initial financing. “Many communities are really interested in using a financing model instead of going out to bond. We are able to structure smart city lighting projects with a cash flow goal that is slightly positive, and this makes a huge difference. With street lighting, the high savings potential is there.”

    You can read more about NYPA’s street lighting program and financing in Signify’s Interact City case study.
    NYPA’s street lighting program
    Signify was recently placed first in Guidehouse Insights’ Smart Street Lighting Vendors Leaderboard. Watch the webinar here.

    About the author:

    Annie MacFarlane

    Annie MacFarlane

    Signify Integrated Communications

    For further information, please contact:

    Signify Global Integrated Communications
    Neil Pattie
    Tel: + 31 6 15 08 48 17
    Email: neil.pattie@signify.com

    About Signify

     

    Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) is the world leader in lighting for professionals and consumers and lighting for the Internet of Things. Our Philips products, Interact connected lighting systems and data-enabled services, deliver business value and transform life in homes, buildings and public spaces. With 2019 sales of EUR 6.2 billion, we have approximately 37,000 employees and are present in over 70 countries. We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We achieved carbon neutrality in 2020, have been in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index since our IPO for four consecutive years and were named Industry Leader in 20172018 and 2019. News from Signify is located at the Newsroom, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Information for investors can be found on the Investor Relations page.

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