Johnson City has embarked on a street lighting pilot project with BrightRidge in Founders Park and King Commons that promises to be illuminating, entertaining and informative.

The city will soon be installing “smart city poles” that go beyond traditional streetlight poles. Officials say these smart poles are even more advanced than the current smart streetlights, which use today’s technology to communicate with each other to coordinate lighting needs and energy use.

Smart city poles offer a wider array of technology that can broadcast programmable music, serve as weather stations and monitor pedestrian traffic flow. That means the poles can play holiday music at Christmas, warn pedestrians of rising water levels and even alert festival goers to changes in an event’s schedule.

More advanced models offer programmable directional signage, data transmissions and facial recognition cameras.

The latter will not be included in Johnson City’s pilot project, which is being made possible through a $335,000 grant to the city and BrightRidge from the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Connected Communities program. Even so, city officials say they have the option to include those and other technologies in future projects.

Members of the BrightRidge board were given an overview of the partnership project earlier this week. Mark Eades, BrightRidge’s chief engineering and technology officer, said the pilot project is similar to one that has become popular in Mooresville, North Carolina.

He said the smart city pole equipment will be provided by Illuminating Concepts, an architectural lighting design firm best known for its work with Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Eades also told BrightRidge board members the first phase of the pilot project is dependent on the availability of materials and will likely be completed in early 2022.

Board member Jenny Brock, who is the City Commission’s representative on the utility’s board, said she would have preferred to see the smart city poles installed at Founders Park in time for BrightRidge’s Christmas Tree display. Brock and her colleagues on the City Commission gave their thumbs up to the pilot project earlier in September.

Read more: ‘Smart poles’ coming to Founders Park and King Commons

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