Street Smart: Market potential for efficient lighting in smart cities

Market potential for efficient lighting in smart cities

One of the crucial components of a smart city is intelligent and connected lighting. With an appropriate illumination system, possibilities of connecting light points to the available communication technology as well as to back-end software becomes possible. Though a number of cities in the country lack proper street lighting systems, the concept of smart street lights to change the cityscape is gradually gaining prominence. In the upcoming smart cities in particular, the installation of smart street lights is a key focus area.

As a result, the street lighting segment has attracted several niche players into the Indian market. These players offer solutions for the replacement of traditional street lights with smart poles. Several cities have already started work on the installation of smart poles and have tendered projects on a public-

private partnership (PPP) basis. In the future, taking cues from successful cases globally, smart pole infrastructure could be leveraged to smarten transport and telecom infrastructure as well. Smart poles could also act as city nodes to capture data on traffic, weather and pollution levels.

Key features of smart poles

Smart poles are multifunctional light poles that are equipped with electronic components, software controls and smart sensors that can receive and transmit data. They have the potential to incorporate numerous add-on capabilities and functions, and can be easily modified with new and evolving technologies and devices.

A smart pole comprises advanced lighting sources such as LED lights, a control unit, and lamp poles with built-in sensors and communication units, which are connected through a secure and reliable wired/wireless network enabling monitoring and control functions. Some of the key features of smart poles include efficient and remotely controllable LED lighting, cellular communication, CCTV security, environmental sensors, public Wi-Fi hotspots, etc.

The Indian context: Launch of SCM provides a fillip

Though smart street lighting systems are already being deployed and tested in cities across the world such as Los Angeles and Jakarta, the smart lighting system gathered momentum in India mainly after the launch of the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) in 2015.

The move to make cities smart has professionalised the way city lighting systems are managed. Now, these systems are being managed with the help of software-based workflows, continuous status monitoring and automated fault notifications through remote performance monitoring. Other features of the modern lighting systems include tailored dimming, scene-setting, billing based on metered data, on-demand scaling infrastructure, etc.

Prior to this, a paper-based mechanism was used for maintenance, planning and tracking the lighting system in cities and failures/faults were detected via physical patrolling. Lighting levels were undifferentiated and there was estimation-based billing and inflexible in-house infrastructure.

IoT platform for street lighting  

Under the SCM, public lighting systems are based on three basic principles – right lighting (every city area has different lighting requirements and appropriate lighting systems should be planned accordingly), connected operations (convergence of lighting and information technologies [IT] to create new capabilities), and evolving applications (lighting integrated into a city’s technical ecosystem).

The world is now moving towards deploying new technologies such as the internet of things (IoT). To realise the smart city vision of adding value to the city by lighting, a new IoT platform known as Interact City has been launched. It is a suite for different applications making the city lighting system smarter by connecting it with other devices.

The platform is equipped with various software and hardware building blocks and includes a variety of features such as scene management, energy optimisation and lighting asset management. This new system also helps in incident detection by continuously monitoring the streets and alerting emergency services in case of situations of unexpected traffic, sounds or crowds via sensors on light poles. Such city lighting infrastructure is also useful in environmental monitoring by using sensors connected to street lighting systems to gain insights into issues such pollution and noise levels. The system is set up on an open data interface which integrates the public lighting asset data with city management systems and smart city dashboards and connects smart city applications with remote lighting management to optimise safety and efficiency.

Several players have plans to deploy IoT-enabled smart street lighting infrastructure. As per a report released in March 2018, Tata Communications unveiled a plan to install 15,000 smart street lights in Jamshedpur that can be controlled through the internet. Meanwhile, very recently, Wipro Lighting partnered with Schréder Lighting to market “smart city products and beyond” lighting solutions in India and meet premium lighting requirements by bringing in the latter’s expertise in and technology related to IoT-based smart street lights and smart poles. This is expected to provide cities with improved interconnectivity, enhanced safety and a sustainable environment.

Progress under SCM

The adoption of smart city street lighting systems is progressing well with such systems already installed in some cities. Under the SCM, a total of 74 projects worth approximately Rs 38.24 billion have either been taken up or are proposed to be taken up for the installation of smart street lighting systems and deployment of smart/intelligent poles. Notably, many of these projects are proposed to be awarded on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis while only a few cities such as Amritsar and Ludhiana are planning to implement these projects on an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis. Of these projects, work has already been completed in some cities, including Pune, Naya Raipur, Surat and Ludhiana, while it is currently under implementation in others such as the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and Bhopal. Cities such as Indore, Jabalpur, Amritsar, Nashik, Guwahati, Kochi and Solapur have already issued tenders for installation of street lighting systems.

In Pune, around 80,000 street lights have been replaced with Philips Amplight installations, while a similar kind of street light installation has been completed in Naya Raipur. Meanwhile, the deployment of smart city street lighting systems in New Delhi is currently under way with a few lights already installed in Connaught Place under NDMC.

Recently, Bhopal has launched an innovative PPP-based smart poles and intelligent street lights project under the SCM. The project involves the installation of 400 smart poles across the city along with 20,000 LED street lights (by replacing conventional sodium lamps and mercury lamps). The smart poles will have features such as high speed Wi-Fi and environment sensors. The project is being undertaken by Bharti Infratel Limited, along with Hewlett-Packard and Ericsson as consortium partners, at an estimated value of Rs 6.9 billion. Currently, all the 20,000 LED lights have been installed with lux level of 30 while the installation of smart poles is in progress. The project is expected to deliver bundled smart services to citizens and maximise value for money for the city authority.

Besides, another smart lighting project, known as Light On-Demand for Citizens, has been put in place in Visakhapatnam, under which the 4.5 km R.K. Beach Road (from Coastal Battery Junction to Park Hotel Junction) was equipped with aesthetically designed, stand-alone solar street lights with 100 per cent energy efficiency. Other features of the system include automatic power controls (according to day and weather conditions), longer lifespan, lower system cost, standby capacity of three days, easily programmable, etc. Such lighting infrastructure is also planned to be deployed in New Delhi. Other successful installations of modern lighting systems include those at monuments, open spaces and building facades, such as India Gate, North Block and South Block in New Delhi, the police commissionerate in Jaipur, Juhu Beach in Mumbai, the Allahabad High Court, Shahi Bridge in Jaunpur, and street lighting and city lighting systems in Varanasi and Chennai.

The way ahead

Even though smart street lighting is a simple solution, both in terms of system implementation and smart city development, it is often ignored or poorly planned while planning for smart cities. Ensuring the right light which is dynamic, responsive and interactive, convergence of lighting and IT to create new capabilities and evolving applications wherein lighting is integrated into a city’s technical ecosystem are a few principles which need to be considered for smart city lighting systems.

Smart city development requires professionalisation of lighting management. Further, light on-demand and plug-and-play LED lighting has the potential to increase energy savings. With increased urbanisation, the energy load too is increasing in tandem. In such a scenario, efficient lighting becomes a prerequisite for sustainability. Better ways need to be devised for saving energy by using efficient lighting systems.

Smart lighting systems are usually poorly covered in the detailed project reports being prepared for smart cities and/or are bundled with other unrelated projects, leading to wrong decisions, poor lighting infrastructure and cities losing the benefit of right lighting and core expertise from the industry. Thus, even though cities are heading towards the implementation of smart street lighting systems, there still exists a need for proper planning and implementation of the right lighting system while developing smart cities.

Based on a presentation by Vivek Jain, General Manager, Marketing, Public Urban and Smart Cities, South Asia Philips Lighting, at a recent India Infrastructure conference