The 2018 LightFair International Trade Show, the world's largest annual architectural and commercial light trade show and conference, was held in Chicago last week. Vendors displayed their latest technologies, and speakers shared future trends with the audience.
One of the speakers, John Green, P.E., president of Lambda 530 Consulting (Fayetteville, Ga.) noted that one important trend to watch is the increase in non-lighting sensors being integrated into luminaires, including streetlights. These include sensors for security (such as CCTV cameras and anti-theft alarms), traffic patterns, weather changes, and air pollution sensing and monitoring.
This, of course, is beyond the already-expected benefits of LED streetlights, such as those noted in a new report published by TMR Research.
"The smart/connected street light infrastructure, comprising of connected technology, LED bulbs, motion sensors that activate lights when passersby are near, or switch off automatically with sunlight at daybreak, and generate prompts on when a light needs to be replaces, serves to make the streets safer," states a TMR Research press release.
Other prognosticators are also taking note of the new opportunities, some of them referring to it as the internet of lighting (IoL), a subset of the internet of things (IoT). The theory of the IoL is that LED lighting, being a digital source, can and will become a principal infrastructure upon which other technologies and services can be provided. In a smart city setting, streetlights and poles will become the infrastructure of the IoL and, thus, be able to fulfill a number of functions beyond simple lighting, including those noted above, as well as Wi-Fi and radio frequency (RF) connectivity, commuter information, smart screens for ads, parking space monitoring, and even public address systems.
Some cities are already taking notice. Richmond Hill, Ontario, is working with a vendor to install new street lighting infrastructure that can accommodate additional chips and sensors, which would be in place to support future smart city functions, such as monitoring and managing traffic flow, detecting available parking spaces, and measuring air quality.
Other cities include Knoxville, Tenn., and Kansas City, Mo. Kansas City began installing LED streetlights in 2011 and, over the years, has gradually been adding other sensors to the light poles, including one that is actually able to predict potholes with 85 percent accuracy, allowing the city to engage in preventive street maintenance, instead of having to engage in expensive after-the-fact street repair.
Most recently, Albany, N.Y., began the process of upgrading 10,000 of its streetlights to a connected LED system, called a "centralized management system," which will allow for the expansion of the infrastructure to include various sensors and detectors on the light poles.