Streetlights get smarter

Smart streetlight by GE is fascinating New Yorkers. Credit: GE

Vor der Kaserne Vor dem grossen Tor
Stand eine Laterne Und steht sie noch davor

Underneath the lantern by the barrack gate 
Darling I remember the way you used to wait

When I read this news I couldn't help remembering those two lines. 

Now they have installed a video display on a streetlamp in New York city to let New Yorkers know they are planning to install smart street lights in their city as well.

GE has already installed smart streetlights in a few cities, like San Diego and Jacksonville. Now they have installed a video display on a streetlamp in New York city to let New Yorkers know they are planning to install smart street lights in their city as well.

Turning street lights into smart ones is ... a smart move but this is not unique to US. It is something that is being done elsewhere, like in Londrina, Brasil, or Bologna, Italy.

It can be done because technology now can support a variety of different services piggy-ing back onto the same infrastructure. Just think about telecommunications. What used to be an infrastructure designed to carry voice is now carrying... any kind of bits (bits are bits...).

Power utilities are also considering and often using their infrastructures to carry bit and services.

In a city public illumination is a common widespread infrastructure. It makes sense to think about using it for more. And a first idea of course is to use the power cable to carry bits and the streetlight poles to work as wifi antennas (you actually stick on them the wifi box and antenna).

You already have the power to power the wifi box (by turning the lamp digital you can have always power-on and when you want the lamp to light up you send a signal to it) and you can use those same wires to carry bits.

People passing by can interact with the street lamp using their cell phone (using the wifi fi area created by the streetlight), and so can cars driving by. 

Furthermore a streetlight can take a look at the road and sidewalk, detecting and reporting issues to a control center or just providing information on available paring space.

They can become sentinels around the city with a limited investment. 

I guess this is an area where a few start ups can develop some business and where everyone living or passing through a city could benefit.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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