5 Benefits of Cellular IoT-Driven Smart Lighting Systems for Cities

May 12, 2020

5 Ways Cellular IoT-Enabled Smart Lighting Systems Help Build Smarter Cities

Lighting is needed everywhere — from residential homes to office buildings to industrial plants. For smart buildings, smart lighting is the backbone of connected buildings. Each light connects to the building’s IP network, which provides the infrastructure for other smart connections in the building, such as security, HVAC, even analytics and data. Now more than ever, businesses and governments around the world are under pressure to lower costs while becoming more energy-efficient and providing people secure and well-lit spaces to work and live. With the latest innovations in lighting — smart lighting — people, companies and governments are unlocking the power of IoT to reduce energy consumption and costs.

Smart street lighting in a city at night.

IoT smart lighting comes with a variety of benefits for cities, as it holds the potential to improve safety while lowering the financial and environmental costs of energy production. Given the foundational role of lighting in urban life, smart lighting can and should be considered a cornerstone of the future’s fully connected smart cities.

Smarter Energy

In the European Union, the demand for smart lighting and cleaner energy is being driven by stricter regulations on energy labeling and ecodesign. Among other things, these regulations seek to phase out halogen lamps by 2023 and bring an electricity savings of 93 terawatt-hours per year.

Smart lighting technologies can drastically reduce a city’s energy consumption and wastage. For example, in 2012, the city of Barcelona implemented the Barcelona Lighting Masterplan that installed 1,100 smart lights around the city that were able to be controlled remotely. By 2017, Barcelona had achieved 30 percent savings in energy consumption and an equivalent return on investment of €4.5 million per year. By monitoring smart lights throughout various sectors of the city through remote monitoring and adjusting IoT applications, cities can control how, when, and where it wishes to consume energy.

Cellular technology, which includes 5G-compatible NB-IoT NB2 from the 3GPP Release 14 standard, delivers universal connectivity of cellular at very low energy consumption levels and total operating costs. NB-IoT is part of the LTE and 5G infrastructure, requiring no additional special radio bases or specific infrastructure consuming energy to connect to the IoT capable city lighting fixtures.

Improved Safety with Smart Street Lighting

Cities can improve safety by installing remote-activated or monitored smart lighting systems in places often lacking proper lighting. These places include low-traffic streets, parking lots, multilevel automobile garages, alleyways, campuses, parks and other public spaces that might have depended on traditional infrastructure. With IoT-enabled smart lighting systems, cities have enhanced their public safety. Specific applications of smart street lighting controls include:

  • Using responsive lighting to improve visibility during inclement weather.
  • Turning on or dimming lights instantly to assist emergency responders.
  • Increasing lighting in high crime areas to deter misconduct.
  • Brightening lights in remote areas in response to traffic.
  • Detecting and addressing lighting outages faster.

Ease of Installation and Integration

IoT lighting solutions no longer require an entire electrical system overhaul or specialized technician to install automated lights or sensor-based dimming. When it comes to consumer or residential smart lights, most are DIY installations that fit standard sockets and connected through a home’s Wi-Fi. For cities, these wireless systems primarily based on cellular technology now are great for municipality lighting, since outdoor areas can operate free of interference. Additionally, cloud-based control systems are allowing cities to control and monitor their smart lighting infrastructure easily.

Cleaner Energy

Legacy grid systems utilized batteries, direct power and other fossil-fuel-burning processes to power lighting. With smart lighting connected to a smart grid, there is less demand for batteries, more carbon efficiency and reductions of the peak load on distribution feeders. As cities gain more control of how and when lighting is used, they can drastically alter and decrease consumption by turning off lights in the daytime, reducing grid load and ultimately lowering the city’s utilities bill. Cellular 4G and 5G technologies take energy consumption very seriously. In research conducted by the Council on Foreign Relations, 5G delivers an energy efficiency of 10 Mb/Joule versus 20 Kb/Joule of present 4G technology.

Reduced Costs

Research by Gartner Inc. shows that smart lighting can potentially bring about an energy cost reduction of up to 90 percent. According to the Department of Energy, today’s electrical system power outages and interruptions cost Americans at least $150 billion each year, putting the price tag at about $500 per person. Power outages can cost lives as well. In March 2019, Venezuela experienced a five-day power outage. Twenty-nine people died in hospitals, as backup generators failed. By using smart meters to monitor energy consumption and source rerouting the instant a power failure is detected, ( smart grids can lower costs and even save lives.

Cities and municipalities that can see its operational status of their lights at a glance and then deploy lighting where needed dramatically reduce their energy consumption. Instead of utilizing a legacy system on a timer that turns an entire grid’s lights on and off, cities can control when, where and how much lighting it needs.

With IoT, cities can also use software that predicts power outages and streetlight replacement, all decreasing costs of maintenance while consuming less.

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