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Flicking the Switch on a Smart Streetlight Revolution

Streetlights are getting smarter. The glare of static ‘dumb’ lights is increasingly being replaced by connected smart lighting infrastructure around the world. Globally, the number of smart connected streetlights is expected to grow to 30 million by 2023.

That 30 million is just the tip of the iceberg, according to recent insight from the International Greentech & Eco Products Exhibition & Conference Malaysia (IGEM) virtual conference. According to Will Gibson, director of smart streetlight manufacturer Telensa, an estimated 90% of the world’s streetlights will transition to smart LED systems over the next decade.

With smart streetlighting set to transform outdoor environments and energy saving across the globe, Energy Watch takes a dive into smart streetlighting implementation around the world.


London, United Kingdom

Europe is currently a leader in installed capacity, home to over two-thirds of the total installed smart streetlighting globally. In the United Kingdom, 25% of streetlights have already been converted to LED, with one in ten UK streetlights fitted with a Telensa smart controller.

A recent report reveals utilities could cut costs by US$15 billion globally by 2023 through widespread deployment of smart streetlights, a crucial opportunity to reduce energy costs. London recently announced ambitions to introduce over 15,000 new smart lights to its city infrastructure to boost energy savings and reduce costs. This infrastructure will not only provide better energy efficiency, but will be fundamental in other area such as environmental monitoring.

Milan, Italy

Milan’s LED streetlight project reduced energy costs by over 50% and overheads by almost one-third

Milan is well-known for its internationally-revered fashion, and now it’s leading the global trend in smart streetlighting too. In 2015, this fashionable Italian city planned to install 100,000 LED streetlights, making it the first metropolitan European city committed to completely renovating its portfolio of streetlighting.

This project delivered savings of EUR10 million in 2015, reducing energy costs by over 50% and overheads by almost one-third. It’s estimated this will save over 23,000 tonnes of CO2 annually, reducing replacement lamps by 60,000, and saving nine tonnes of electronic waste.

Los Angeles, USA

Smart streetlights provide a foundation to broader smart city opportunity. That includes a wide range of functionalities, from connected traffic networks to flexible lighting solutions that adapt to extreme weather conditions. These broad benefits are being targeted through a smart city transformation in Los Angeles, USA.

Efforts to transition to smart streetlighting have already saved the municipality over USD11 million in energy costs, reducing carbon emissions by 72,000 metric tonnes.

The LA Bureau of Streetlights is aiming to complete conversion of the entire stock of 223,000 lights to smart LEDs by the end of 2020. But the benefits of this tech-enabled city go further to embrace a low-energy future. There are already more than 400 streetlights which also offer integrated electronic vehicle (EV) charging solutions. Wider ambitions aim to increase the connected benefits by integrating Wi-Fi services, mobile phone charging, and environmental monitoring solutions.

Seoul, South Korea

smart infrastructure will integrate streetlighting, CCTV and traffic lights into a comprehensive smart city solution.

The South Korean capital Seoul has long been synonymous with technological innovation. Now, the municipality is looking to take the smart lighting transition a step further with plans to introduce ‘smart pole’ streetlighting across the city.

These elements of smart connected infrastructure will integrate streetlighting, CCTV, traffic lights, and security lights into a comprehensive smart city solution. Like Los Angeles, these infrastructure points will be designed to allow EV charging, Wi-Fi networks, and other communication services.

The Korean Government plans to further embed artificial intelligence solutions into its smart infrastructure, allowing street lamps to form the basis for powerful traffic management solutions. This is expected to improve road safety and prevent accidents, boosting the efficiency of road networks.

Smart Streetlights Light Up Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is also undergoing its own smart lighting transition. Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, began efforts in 2016 to replace 90,000 lights across the city. This system leverages existing mobile data networks to connect lighting infrastructure with the municipal authority, providing a flexible cost-saving solution that is easily integrated with existing technologies.

In Singapore, the local authorities plan to replace all streetlights across the city with LED lights by 2022. These lights have an average lifespan of 20 years and reduce energy costs by 25% compared to existing technologies. This forms part of the nation’s ambition to deliver ‘smart lamp post’ connected infrastructure across Singapore. This includes standard smart dimming functionalities, as well as environmental monitoring, automated vehicle navigation, and even noise detection to identify critical noises such as loud bangs or screams.

smart lighting development could save over 735 million tonnes of CO2 annually

The Malaysian city of Malacca was home to a pioneering smart streetlight project in 2016. This project resulted in 1,000 cloud-based smart streetlights as a flagship initiative to test the functionality within the country. National utility TNB has also worked with UNITEN University to embrace smart streetlighting as part of its ‘Smart UniverCity’ concept in Putrajaya. There are ambitions to widen this project in Malaysia in future years, unlocking the substantial value of energy-efficient smart lighting technologies across the country. Progress is already underway across Malaysia with 463,747 LED replacements already installed, reducing up to 40% of electricity bill costs among local authorities. TNB also projects that 33% or approximately RM200 million of savings is expected from contracting LED replacement projects below estimated costs.

Studies and implementation have shown that switching from traditional to LED bulbs in streetlighting delivers 50% energy savings, with an additional 30% boost from smart dimming levels. Thanks to the connected infrastructure, operators are quickly informed of failing lights, providing up to 50% saving in maintenance costs.

Revolutionising street lighting may not have seemed like the most obvious answer to reducing emissions, but the reality is smart lighting development could save over 735 million tonnes of CO2 annually. With many countries in the region already testing and deploying these changes, it’s reassuring to know that when it comes to lighting our streets, every night makes Southeast Asia a little bit smarter.

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