Over the last few months we have been talking about the challenge of deploying a smart city network that can grow as needs and budget allow. We would like to see existing infrastructure leveraged to create that network and in our mind the front runner is street lighting - it offers mains power in the street that is notoriously difficult to get permission for and it provides a 5-12m aerial position for greater radio range from one post to another.
Last week we announced our first solution for Smart City applications aptly titled the Smart City Pilot Kit. The goal of the kit is to allow city, district and county councils to experiment with data capture technologies and use that data to support a business case as to why they should invest in a larger scale deployment.
Last week we talked about the why and how of air quality monitoring but we did not explore how air quality may be impacted by other vectors and that is the focus of this article.
Air quality has become the primary concern effecting the urban environment in recent years, yet very little is understood about the specifics of how poor air quality affects us, or indeed how best to monitor it. You only have to walk along any busy road in any city or town to understanding the choking nature of car fumes, but what is bad? How harmful is the air? Should you walk or get into a car to protect yourself from the fumes? Does it differ significantly at different times of the day or in different weather conditions?
In my last post, I proposed turning streetlights or public lighting from being a cost burden, purely a line in the highways budget, into a smart city (you can read town, village or campus here too) connectivity backbone that all departments in the local authority or municipality could benefit from. By investing a bit more money during the streetlight upgrade program - many public bodies are looking to invest in their lighting in order to save energy and maintenance costs - the new lighting can be augmented with a radio node to create a wireless network to which a whole host of sensors and controllers can be attached.
The Cost of Lighting
At enLight we are promoting the message that streetlights have so much more to offer to cities, towns or villages. Today, streetlights are viewed purely as a cost - a budget that has to be allocated to keep the lights powered during the night (or at least most of the time - see my previous post here) and to cover the ongoing maintenance costs for lights that have broken or been damaged. This budget is not insignificant and with continuing budget squeezes at local government level, many are looking to upgrade their lights to save money - a capital investment today that will reap benefits in lower operating costs in years to come.
The Local Authority choice: Lights off or change to LED?
Most local authorities, municipalities or councils today believe that they have to choose one of two options for lowering the total cost of providing public lighting on highways, car parks and footpaths; namely, either turn lights off at night when there are not many people out and about or replace all their lanterns with an LED version. Let's look at each option in turn and assess the total impact of that particular decision and whether there is a very cost effective 3rd option?