Nordic Alf Helge Omre semiconductor
Turning the previous traditional LED street lights into “smart” devices is one of the easiest and cost-effective options for building a smart city, which can effectively pay for itself. The advent of cellular IoT technology reinforces this scenario, as it means the required supporting infrastructure is in place.
Universally visible and robust, LED lampposts are the ideal physical platform upon which to build any other smart city functionality.
Cellular IoT Smart Payment
According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), by 2050, 70% of the population will live in cities, and mass migration is underway.
As urban populations swell, government agencies around the world are under enormous pressure to provide more or better services with less per capita money, and this pressure is pervasive. Today, there is also growing pressure to significantly improve environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance.
This is a big question, why is the smart city market expected to be a $7 billion industry by 2030?
Fortunately, in the construction of smart cities, one aspect that can significantly save energy consumption and costs is to make existing LED street lights intelligent.
At the most basic level, this involves making street lights more responsive to the actual lighting needs of the location, rather than turning on and off on a fixed schedule. For example, on a sunny day, street lights can be turned off for much longer than on cloudy days.
Alternatively, if the number of pedestrians is low or the road traffic density is low, then the light intensity or density may not be as high.
Save more than just energy
The cost-saving potential of smart street lights goes well beyond reducing energy consumption, as one can also continuously monitor smart LED street lights, opening up the ability to identify and predict street light failures.
As a result, maintainers can focus on more valuable work and reduce costs. For example, centrally inspect and repair a set of street lights at one location. It also helps reduce pollution by reducing the number of miles traveled by maintenance crews on transportation.
Over time, the energy and maintenance cost savings of making LED streetlights smarter can often pay for the entire upgrade effort.
Highlight moments of street lights
However, cost savings are not the only benefit of smart street lights. Lampposts are everywhere, they are physically very strong (tall, weatherproof and safe) and they also have a mains power supply in case the battery power fails.
Street lights are an ideal platform to house other sensors for smart city applications. Notable examples include optimizing traffic, reducing air and monitoring noise pollution and pedestrian flow.
These smart city applications have the potential to make towns and cities safer, greener and more livable.
enjoy the benefits
The benefits of moving to smart LED street lights and smart cities are obvious, the only downside is the technical complexity.
Most of the staff in local towns and city authorities are not IoT or IT experts, nor do they intend to be professionals in this area.
However, they are all key decision makers in street lighting and smart cities. The more smart city facility providers can simplify citizens’ lives, the more policymakers are inclined to go the smart city route.
Nordic’s customer Urban Control, a leading provider of smart city equipment, fully understands this challenge. Urban Control has developed a retrofittable smart LED street light controller that is said to be able to make any LED street light instantly smart through “plug and play” easy operation. This includes the use of industry standard Zhaga LED lighting sockets.
The Urban Node 324 utilizes the Nordic nRF9160 multi-mode NB-IoT/LTE-M SiP to provide cellular IoT communications, and users can remotely operate the controller utilizing the common “TALQ” smart city standard Smart City Central Management System (CMS).
By using cellular IoT, controllers can cost-effectively scale from one streetlight to a network of millions of streetlights by leveraging existing global cellular network infrastructure “out of the box” like a smartphone. This simplicity and efficiency eliminates the technical concerns of non-technical town government agencies about building and managing specialized wireless IoT networks.
Home run for cellular IoT
Another benefit of cellular Internet of Things (IoT) wireless technology in smart cities is often overlooked, but is just as important: it avoids the possibility that any technology will become obsolete.
Any tech industry changes, and the pace of change seems to only get faster. Wireless IoT is no exception. During the 20, 30, or even 40-year lifespan of urban street lights that are commonplace, no one expects to wake up one day to find no cellular wireless network running outside.
When it comes to wireless IoT, fortunately cellular IoT offers future-proof capabilities that are second to none. With cellular IoT, one can expect and rely on scalability, high quality of service, security, and reliability benefits from cellular networks.