Urbanisation is on the increase worldwide. In India, our municipalities and cities are facing major challenges in this regard. Digitalisation, IT boom and new technologies also raise different expectations in citizens, local and regional authorities, grid operators and other related companies.

Street lighting on municipal roads is being digitalised and is now becoming part of a smart city approach. Thanks to the Smart Cities Mission by Government of India. Due to Smart Cities Mission first time in India; lighting, health, safety, energy and mobility are linked together for the optimal use of our existing public and private spaces.

Smart Street Lighting

The primary purpose of smart street lighting was energy efficiency by adjusting the light intensity based on a number of parameters. Today, new technologies are transforming light fixtures into multifunctional interactive systems that can communicate with their environment. This creates masses of data, which provide fertile soil for innovative services and solutions that are paving the way to smart urban development.

Figure 1: A Journey of Street Lighting (Source: Agoria Lighting Company, Belgium)

What Makes Lighting Smart?

A smart  , connected lighting system is part of a local, wireless, decentralised network with a local intelligence. It is connected to the internet (IoT) and to a central data and management platform in the cloud. It is equipped with smart sensors, integrated devices and cameras to respond to its environment dynamically and interactively.

Refer figure 2 for conceptual smart lighting poles with key possible functions.

Benefits of Smart Lighting in the cities

There are multiple benefits of smart lighting as given below:

For Municipalities and Cities

Below given are the key benefits for local municipalities and cities as a whole:

  • Adjust dimming schedules to save more or reduce light pollution;
  • Accurate actual power consumption;
  • Control light level remotely in case of events or incidents; and
  • Ready for future smart city applications.

For Grid Operators or Private Partners

Below given are the key benefits for Grid operators or private partners:

  • More efficient maintenance, because smart light fixtures automatically report any malfunctions;
  • Constant information on the actual power consumption; and
  • Automatic asset management with lower error rates.

Indian cities like Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore, Pune etc. are one of the most urbanised cities in the world. More and more people are moving to the cities and Peri-urbanisation is on the rise in India. Smart LED lighting can play an important role in resolving challenges local authorities or municipalities are facing in terms of safety, mobility, environment and energy.

Figure 2: Conceptual Picture of Smart Lighting

From Lighting to Smart LED Lighting in Smart City conditions

Maximum of street lighting on municipal roads still uses conventional technology or few changed to LED in recent years. Technically, the street lights simply switch on and off at a fixed time and light intensity remains the same throughout the night. LED lighting, however, can respond more dynamically to the needs of road users. They can be based on a flexible “dimming schedule” that is programmed to adjust the light intensity at certain times. Another option is a self-managing lighting system that dynamically adjusts its dimming setting based on what is happening in the local environment.

There are three possible interventions/scenarios for switching to Smart LED lighting. The chosen option may vary in the local context based on the needs of the road users and local residents, the ambitions of the local government and the objectives of their smart city plans. In the below given image are the three scenarios and the probable benefits/outcomes.

Figure 3: Possible interventions (3 Scenarios)

Recommendations for Local and Regional authorities

Below given are the category wise key general recommendations for local and regional authorities:

For Local Authorities or Municipalities

Below given are the recommendations for local authorities or municipalities:

  • Consider street lighting as part of a smart city concept.
  • Open up street lighting to intelligent applications to make its use more comprehensive in the future.
  • Involve private players, who wants to be a value-added partner of municipalities and smart cities.
  • The smart lighting can be rolled out in phases. The start can be an intelligent basic module to which new applications are added in the future with software updates or additional sensors.
  • Make arrangements with regard to the interoperability within the lighting infrastructure, the intelligent systems (cameras, sensors) from various suppliers, data management, data ownership, personal data protection and cybersecurity.

For Regional authorities

The recommendations for regional authorities are as follows:

  • A broader vision is required for grid operators; more than just replacing light fixtures;
  • The grid operators’ focus should be on facilitating the rollout of a smart lighting network on the grid side up to the connection point as smart street lighting requires power 24/7.
  • Links (Data) with the energy platform of the distribution grid operator and other stakeholders are important.
  • The smart lighting network must be developed as a modular platform that keeps cities and municipalities in control and capable of deciding for themselves.
  • Municipalities must have the opportunity to look for an external partner for their street lighting themselves to set up external or a PPP structure.
  • To achieve the appropriate economies of scale, it is best to work with areas of municipalities/cities, for which one integrator is chosen.