July 25, 2016 Djuan Coleon

Turn The Lights On, Smart Cities and LED Street Lighting

“Build Resilient Infrastructure” is Sustainable Development Goal number 9 out of 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for the world’s cities to achieve by 2032. Flint, Michigan and it’s water security crisis has is just one reason why cities need resilient infrastructure.  Roads, bridges, LEED certified buildings are just some of infrastructure improvements that cities need to make in order to transition to smart cities. I believe one of the first improvements cities have to make is upgrading their high-pressure sodium lighting or mercury vapor lamp street lighting systems to more energy efficient LED lights.  

smart-cities

TURN THE LIGHTS ON

The City of Los Angeles has seen their electricity bill reduced by over 40% by replacing their street lights with LEDs.  The city of Boston saves $2.8 million a year with its upgraded lighting and the project has paid for itself in a year and a half.

Mayor William Bell of Birmingham, Alabama spoke at the recent NAACP Convention in Cincinnati. Mayor Bell talked about the city’s partnership with Phillips and Alabama Power for a LED street lighting project the city of Birmingham is undertaking. The City of Birmingham is replacing over 30,000 lights including 1500 lights in five public housing communities.

LED Street lightIn Detroit a lot of the street lights no longer work and According to Public Lighting Authority of Detroit (PLA), “. . . approximately 40 percent of the old streetlights were not in operation due to burned out bulbs, deteriorated infrastructure, or theft of copper.” Dark or poorly lit city streets are major safety concern for both motorists and pedestrians.

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(Boston LED Lighting Project)

In Detroit a lot of the street lights no longer work and According to Public Lighting Authority of Detroit (PLA), “. . . approximately 40 percent of the old streetlights were not in operation due to burned out bulbs, deteriorated infrastructure, or theft of copper.” Dark or poorly lit city streets are major safety concern for both motorists and pedestrians.

ENGAGE THE COMMUNITY

I believe municipalities have an opportunity to engage communities as part of the process of installing LED lighting projects. One of the challenges is when cities do infrastructure projects oftentimes all the stakeholders are not involved or given a voice in the process. Low income communities seem to not get the memo when these kinds of vital projects are being planned and implemented in their community. Smart Cities should mean smarter citizens thus we should include every stake holder in the the process. How can cities focus on a network of “things” connected by sensors communicating and collaborating and not include the people in the feedback loop?  LED lighting projects can help build a framework to a digital network in municipalities. LEDs have the scalability to add electronic communication devices, sensors and software intelligence for Big Data usage.  For example LED street lighting can monitor traffic on highways or be used for emergency broadcasting services. In communities LEDs can be used to help deter crime and be used by local police and fire departments for monitoring and response. Communities need to understand how LEDs will help improve their quality life and how the technology is connected to building smart cities, in order to take ownership. In the retail shopping space LEDs are being used in Indoor Location- Based Services. Engaging the community in all infrastructure decisions helps build trust and community cohesion. People deserve to know how and why their tax dollars are being used. When it comes to LED lighting projects there have been some studies that show that there could be some negative effects. We also must consider the community when installing LED street lighting projects because various new studies have come out that call for concern of “light pollution” from LEDs.

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