Pena Station, once a rail station south of Denver International Airport, is on track to become one of the most futuristic smart cities in the nation, due to a recent decision by Japan-based Panasonic to move its Enterprise Solutions Division headquarters there.

While several technological developments are on tap for Pena Station, including autonomous vehicles and an energy grid that relies on solar power during the day and batteries at night, one of the most interesting is the installation of futuristic LED light poles.


The units will do more than just feature LED lighting. They will be controlled by an Internet of Things (IoT) platform that will dim the lights when the streets are empty as well as during full moons. The system will immediately provide notification when a lamp is out. Furthermore, the lamps can be controlled to flash or work as wayfinding lights to guide people to safety. The first 53 lighting units were installed in December 2016.


In the near future, plans are to transform the light poles into revenue-generating assets that can support smart parking, environmental sensing, community Wi-Fi and public safety.


Cameras on the posts will enable parents at home to see their children in and around the neighborhood. While this technology has its advantages, there are privacy concerns.


“There’s a certain amount of privacy that we all want to feel like we have,” said Stacie Gilmore, Denver’s District 11 councilwoman, in an interview with the Denver Post. “But the technology [lets parents allow] a child to go to a playground and play and they can see them [remotely]. We’ll have to be considerate of what people like and don’t like and how to move forward.”


The multitude of pole attachments, dubbed “FitBit for Cities,” is a beehive-looking Array of Things developed by Argonne National Laboratory. It is equipped with a number of sensors and has internet connectivity to collect real-time data on the neighborhood’s environment, infrastructure and activity. This allows the neighborhood to monitor precipitation, temperature, humidity, cloud cover (which can impact solar availability), wind and even air particles (pollutants).


Installation of these units began early this year.