Smart streetlights are one of the core elements of smart city deployments. For cities looking to tap into the Internet of Things, smart streetlight upgrades can give them a strong foundation.

Cities can refurbish old streetlights with more energy-efficient LED bulbs, as well as wireless connectivity, motion sensors that activate lights when passersby are near and connected sensors to alert the city when bulbs need to be changed. Intelligent street lighting can also enhance public safety via networked surveillance and environmental monitoring.

According to a recently released research report from the IoT analyst firm Berg Insight, the global installed base of smart streetlights is expected to grow to 31.2 million in 2023, up from 10.4 million at the end of 2018.

Europe is the leading smart street lighting market, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the installed base, according to Berg Insight. “Characterised by a higher degree of utility ownership of street lighting assets, the North American market has seen a more scattered uptake of smart street lighting but is nevertheless home to several of the world’s largest deployments,” the firm notes.

Levi Ostling, IoT analyst at Berg Insight, says “the smart street lighting market is currently undergoing significant transformation and is now entering a new era of competition where the success of vendors will be determined by their ability to establish themselves as competitive providers of communications and management platforms for smart city devices.”

Smart city streetlights, or simply smart streetlights, are streetlights that have generally been upgraded to LED bulbs, which consume far less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. Philips, one of the leading smart streetlight vendors, says cities can reduce energy use by up to 50 percent with connected lighting. This is critical because, as Cisco notes, streetlights can add up to 38 percent of a city’s utility bill.

Streetlights that can be remotely managed, or automatically dim or turn off based on a lack of activity nearby, can save cities money. LED lights are also brighter than traditional lights, increasing public safety by making traditionally dark areas of cities brighter.

Chicago is in the midst of installing 40,000 new LED streetlights in neighborhoods across the city. The city said in 2019 that it will save an estimated $100 million over the next decade thanks to the energy efficient new lights, which consume 50 to 75 percent less electricity than outdated high-pressure sodium streetlights.

At the same time, as the website Smart City Lab notes, smart lighting has been “recognized as one of the most actionable and ready-to-implement technologies for cities to transition to a low-carbon economy and peak emissions in the next decade.”

Lampposts retrofitted with LED lamps are also “the ideal infrastructure for mounting smart city systems” the site notes, and “when used for networking and monitoring, they become a sensor platform, growing efficiency even further and providing vital data for a myriad of urban solutions.”

Glenn Buck, manager of sales engineers for Transition Networks, writing in Smart Cities Dive, notes that the “street lamppost of the future will do much more than light the streets at night.”

Read more: The Power of Smart Street Lighting in Smart Cities

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