Street lamps will be the brain of the smart city

smart street lamps

For centuries, street lamps were only used to lighten your streets. But nowadays, technology is thus far, that they can be used for so much more. In Green Village (Delft University) a number of companies are investigating the possibilities to make street lamps the brain of the city.

They are everywhere, are a stable and high basis, and are connected to the powergrid. Street lamps offer many possibilities to contribute to smart cities, for instance:

  • safety camera’s
  • Wifi sensors
  • antennas
  • devices to measure air quality, traffic congestion or noise

What? They can even be used to verify if a parking space is available, or why not use them to charge electric cars?

Green Village testing ground in Delft (NL)

In Green Village, a group of companies will test the possibilities of street lamps for smart cities. In fact, the term street lamp does not fit any more, the new commonly accepted name is ‘Smart City Hubs’ (no relationship with the name of this website).

What is unique about this concept? In Green Village, a city infrastructure is created, in which companies, students, startups, researchers and other stakeholders can work together to develop and test new products. It is a real life version of a city centre, where city governments can monitor developments in real time.

The street lamp will become the iPhone of the street

While thusfar companies did only attach sensors and devices to street lamps, in Green Village sensors and devices will be fully integrated in the street lamps (clip-ons).

Open vendor system

The street lamps created in Green Village are a product of the company Sustainder, while the software attached to it comes from Luminext. The model currently being developed is the model Anne. It will be an open vendor system. You can compare it with an iPhone, which offers numerous possibilities to add applications to. The same works for the street lamps of the future. The idea is that Luminext will become the development platform for these applications. Third parties will be able to hook up to it.

One example of such a third party application is Triggi. Triggi builds real time connections between multiple devices, apps and services. Triggi works with Philips Hue, Nest, Netatmo, Toon thermostat and many other services. In the future, Triggi might enable citizens to use the ambient sensor of the street lamps to turn on the lights at home.

Thanks to the open architecture technology, Sustainders street lamps can be connected via an API to any back office or other system for remote control and monitoring. Among other things, this lets you:

  • Remotely configure the luminaire after installation
  • Change settings remotely
  • Remotely maintain an overview of the installed base (GPS positions)
  • Remotely monitor the operation of each luminaire
  • Measure the actual energy consumption of each luminaire

Thanks to its smart cassette system, the luminaire is easy to expand with a variety of sensors so that it can function in the future as a full smart city hub.

Anne Sustainder

5G will play an important role

Sustainder CTO Theo van de Wiel says: “The growing demand for connectivity requires a much denser infrastructure than the current wireless one. This means you have to hang up far more antennas in the city. And what are the best places to hang them? Think about it: the public lighting network is the densest network on Earth. If you hang sensors and antennas on as many lamp posts as possible, you create an information structure that offers unprecedented possibilities.

“At the same time, the need to constantly communicate places huge demands on the infrastructure. All the captured data needs to be linked to a software platform, for analysis. To do this will requires wireless networks. So you need a very dense 5G network, and the lamp post is the start of making the city smarter.

“It becomes a smart-city hub, and you almost forget it also provides light. 5G is the most important gamechanger in this.  The way it looks now, 5G will only be standardised in 2020, so we are going to have to wait a bit before we can actually use it. However, by taking part in trials we can start building our knowledge now.”

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