Budgets within the public sector are a continuing challenge, there is no sign that changes to funding are going to improve within the foreseeable future, if anything further ‘efficiencies’ will continue to be sought. We all understand that the overall size of the cake has reduced, but what makes investment for the long term even harder is the way budgets are allocated and accounted for. This can drive unintended consequences and have the perverse outcome of creating inefficiencies.
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.
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 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?