Smart Cities Are Closer Than You Think


November, 2016


In the coming years the scale of growth and urbanisation facing large cities will become a challenge for most communities to address. I believe that smart cities will play a significant part in tackling these challenges, helping cities become more sustainable and effective. But what exactly is the role of lighting in the urban landscape of the future? 

 

Connected lighting technology will play a key part in underpinning the smart cities we can expect to inhabit in just over a decade.  Lighting closely interwoven with a city's infrastructure will unlock the ‘smart’ potential of a city, providing a digital platform for acquiring and sharing information and services that provide real value to residents.

 

The building blocks for such a reality are already in place. One of the oldest cities in The Netherlands, The City of Eindhoven, is creating five living labs across the city to help bring their vision of a smart and sustainable city to life. To build their smart city from the ground up, The City of Eindhoven is introducing participatory planning that allows its residents to be part of every step of the smart city project to improve the quality of life in their community. Residents will be consulted for ideas about how smart lighting infrastructure should be employed over the next 15 years.

Smart Cities Are Closer Than You Think


City officials believe many of the issues raised by their voters can be addressed through lighting itself or via smart technology delivered through the lighting infrastructure. Technology like connected street lighting in combination with other smart systems, sensors and intelligence will turn the lighting infrastructure into an information highway that will enable numerous other benefits and services for residents. For example, the city may opt for piloting technologies that enable lighting to guide emergency services accurately to incidents or within meters of individuals in need. Alternatively, smart sensors in each LED luminaire may be utilized to adapt the lighting to weather conditions or provide light on demand when people are on the streets at night to improve safety. 
 

This ground breaking approach echoes, recent research that shows there is more demand for public engagement, with more than six in 10 people believing governments are not investing enough in digital technologies to create smart cities. The opportunity for policymakers is to explore how to adapt to a new culture in which residents are no longer passive consumers of services but active participants in efforts to improve the planning and operation of their cities. So have you thought about what you would want from your smart city? Tweet us your ideas and aspirations using #smartcities.

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