The statistic ‘by 2050, more than two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities’ is becoming a veritable cliché, but why? This global population shift is on the tip of so many tongues – a trend so critical to every human – that we must ensure the topic never becomes stale or banal. To achieve this we need fresh, context-driven perspectives served up regularly and devoid of uninformed hypotheticals, which is exactly where a new report from Cisco and Philips fits in. Drawing our attention to one core idea that can make our cities more liveable for good …
Entitled ‘The Time Is Right for Connected Public Lighting Within Smart Cities‘, the study looks into the key concepts of urbanisation but applies them to a specific context: “an intelligent, networked public lighting infrastructure”. The study dissects the current issues well, reminding us that the urbanisation pattern across the world leads to an obviously problematic upswing in energy and resource demand, which in turn threatens the strong identities (inter-city competition and economic performance) that cities across the planet are attempting to shape and maintain.
Responsible, “smart” lighting is no longer a “nice to have” for cities—it’s imperative to ensure that cities develop in a sustainable way to ensure a healthy future.
The solution, according to the report, is the deployment of highly efficient connectivity within cities whether that be information, operational or communication systems – the solution is required urgently. For Philips and Cisco it seems clear that connecting lighting infrastructures will minimise a city’s resource intake, reduce its carbon footprint and make it more resilient and future-proofed. The ripple effects of better lighting systems in cities include safer and more liveable streets (less crime, more appealing urban space and better road safety) and adds to a city’s pull factors for multi-national organisations and tourism.
Overhauling an outdated lighting system in a city sounds a remarkably costly exercise but, according to the report, it is feasible to make savings of up to €10 billion in energy per year. A total shift to LED technology could save up to €130 billion and eradicate the need for 640 medium-sized power stations globally. If that is not incentive enough for the policy makers perhaps this is:
“An independent, global trial of LED technology in 12 of the world’s largest cities found that LEDs can generate energy savings of 50 to 70 percent—with savings reaching 80 percent when LED lighting is coupled with smart controls. The program also indicated that citizens of pilot cities prefer LED lighting, citing the social and environmental benefits, such as a greater sense of safety and improved visibility.” [Source]
The solution may sound simple, throw LEDs into the city and apply a smart system to control their usage. This is not the case, however, and this is where the experts at Philips and Cisco will come in handy: otherwise there is no obvious way to make the systems within inefficient and poorly connected cities “talk” to one another. The proposition is a movement from analog (fluorescent lightbulbs) to digital (solid-state) lighting, which will be backed by an energy grid, connected controls, Internet interfacing (the “Energy Internet” / “Smart Grid”) and wireless connections.
Once again, though, this poses another problem in that city gatekeepers require the adequate education to understand the true value, the operational capabilities and the proof of concept of the interconnected lighting infrastructures. The report states that the most viable method to achieve this is through strong PPPs (public-private-partnerships) with an “asset bundling approach”. Only then will cities be able to fully achieve “Smart Connected Cities” status, reap the financial and environmental rewards of such a scheme, perpetuate international competitiveness and enhance the liveability of the city.
The Time Is Right for Connected Public Lighting Within Smart Cities [REPORT]
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