The Changing Conversation Around Streetlights

changing conversation around streetlights

By: Heather Ritchie, CMO at Ubicquia, Inc.

Historically, the adoption of network streetlight controls was primarily driven by the allure of reduced electricity and operational costs. Cities and utilities, eyeing financial prudence, turned to technologies that could dim lights, detect outages, diagnose issues, and perform remote fixes, with lighting controls often paying for themselves in under three years.

Yet, as the global narrative shifts towards sustainability, cities are increasingly leveraging these controls to address broader environmental concerns. The integration of LED technology with network streetlighting controls, exemplified by systems like the UbiCell™ Network Lighting Controller, has proven to be up to 40% more energy-efficient than LEDs alone. This leap in efficiency not only slashes CO2 emissions but also plays a crucial role in municipal climate change mitigation strategies. One of the best examples of this is the Philadelphia Streetlight Improvement Project.

Enhancing Public Safety

Beyond their environmental impact, smart streetlight controls significantly bolster urban safety. By adapting in real time to changes in weather, traffic, and pedestrian movement, these systems ensure optimal illumination levels, enhancing visibility and reducing the likelihood of accidents. Furthermore, the ability to remotely manage and adjust lighting reduces crime rates and creates safer public spaces, making the urban night as welcoming as the day. These issues are so important that we are seeing more government funding for lighting initiatives in this space.

Preserving the Dark Sky 

In the quest to reclaim the stars from the clutches of urban light pollution, smart lighting emerges as a beacon of hope. By minimizing unnecessary light spill and glare, smart streetlight controls protect the dark skies, offering not just an aesthetic boon but also shielding wildlife and ecosystems from the disruptive effects of artificial light.

A New Era of Reliable Urban Services

The intelligence embedded in network streetlight controls extends beyond illumination. Cities like Memphis Tennessee are using them to improved reliability in urban lighting services. With real-time outage detection and remote troubleshooting capabilities, cities can now preemptively address lighting issues, significantly improving service reliability and public satisfaction. The City of San Jose is another example where they are using intelligent streetlight technology to improve lighting reliability.

Championing Infrastructure Equity

At the heart of the smart lighting revolution lies a commitment to infrastructure equity—ensuring that the benefits of advanced lighting technologies are accessible to all communities, especially those historically underserved. One of the best examples of this is the City of Dallas. They have prioritized equitable access and reliability, smart streetlight controls illuminate the path towards a more inclusive urban future, where every community benefits from enhanced safety, visibility, and quality of life.

Through proactive engagement and feedback mechanisms, cities can tailor their lighting strategies to meet the diverse needs of their residents, ensuring that no one is left in the dark. By sharing success stories and lessons learned, municipalities can pave the way for a universally bright future, underpinned by the principles of equity and inclusion.

Lighting the Way Forward

As we look towards the future, it's clear that smart streetlight controls represent more than a technological upgrade—they are a cornerstone of sustainable, safe, and equitable urban development. By embracing these advanced systems, cities can address a spectrum of priorities, from environmental sustainability to public safety, service reliability, and social equity.

The journey towards smarter lighting is not just about illuminating streets; it's about creating vibrant, livable communities where technology serves the common good. With each streetlight converted, cities step closer to realizing their vision of a brighter, more sustainable, and inclusive urban landscape.

About Heather Ritchie
Heather is Ubicquia’s Chief Marketing Officer. She works with cities on environmental, safety and infrastructure equity issues. She also has responsibility for Ubicquia’s infrastructure grant advisory program.

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