Consumer Peripherals

How streetlights improve smart parking and public safety in smart cities

29 September 2022
The city of Albany, New York is using connected street lights and IoT connected sensors to explore how to better use smart parking, traffic management and congestion. Source: Signify

Inside a smart city, numerous connected internet of things (IoT) systems interact with each other to form a system that municipalities can use to monitor different aspects of their city.

Signify, a leading provider of lighting, and Upciti, an artificial intelligence (AI) and edge computing vendor, are taking this to a new level with the implementation of a connected lighting system inside cities that uses sensors to monitor smart parking services, to support public safety and to improve overall public transportation.

The collaboration will use Signify’s road and street LED luminaires and IoT connected lighting systems with Upciti’s image analysis sensors. Many of these systems will be installed on streetlights that are already part of a city’s infrastructure.

Uses for streetlights

For smart parking, the Signify-Upcity collaboration will be able to detect open spaces, communicate availability to drivers and assist with navigation to the open spots. The companies said this will lead to reducing traffic congestion, supporting growing economic activities and generating direct parking revenue.

These sensors could also be used to help identify potential situations and alert emergency services in the event of an emergency. This could include anything from a possible crime being committed, persons in distress, active shooters, crowd detection and more.

In vehicle identification, smart streetlights could help understand public transportation and bike lane usage. The traffic can be adjusted and optimized in real time to reduce congestion and help to contribute to reducing carbon emissions.

“With the U.S. government’s historic, $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, it has never been a more opportune time for cities to leverage their street lighting infrastructure, to tackle some of their greatest challenges such as transportation, public safety and sustainability,” said Martin Stephenson, head of North American systems and services and president of Signify Canada. “Cities can reap immediate value from adding IoT and sensor technology, while laying the foundation for a larger transformation journey.”

NYPA begins upgrade

The collaboration is already being used for the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) smart street lighting program in Albany, New York, to upgrade its nearly 11,000 streetlights to energy-efficient, connected LED luminaires.

Signify’s interactive IoT system for monitoring and managing the lights is part of the energy smart city initiative.

“Connected LED street lighting plays an important role in building smart city infrastructure,” said Jesse Scott, director of projects at NYPA. “An early adopter, the City of Albany has realized tremendous energy and operational savings. We are thrilled with the prospect of piloting the sensor solution in Albany, so it can bring even more value for the city and residents. It will enable departments, from the parking authority to city planning, to make data-driven decisions to improve public safety, support future planning and improve communication infrastructure in disadvantaged communities.”

Other projects

This isn’t the first use of streetlights to power additional smart city applications.

Last year, Signify and the Smart City infrastructure Fund demonstrated how smart lamp posts can tackle tasks such as overcrowding, traffic management and body temperature detection. This came as the world was still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and looking for ways to help improve the situation through technology.

Earlier this year, startup Ubicquia rolled out two streetlight platforms for smart cities that integrate Wi-Fi, 4K cameras, microphones and AI processors. The platforms would be used to reduce traffic congestion, enable crime detection and deterrence, improve bicycle and pedestrian safety, and more.

Smart lighting and streetlights have also become an important way for cities to increase 5G infrastructure with the deployment of small cells that boost signals inside cities where they may have trouble moving through buildings, trees and other objects.

Telensa and Eaton Lighting collaborated on a project to integrate lighting, control and smart city solutions using existing streetlight infrastructure to serve as a way for municipalities to save on energy but also put them on a path toward smart city applications.

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