Smart LED Streetlights Bring Many Benefits Besides Reduced Energy Bills

Sustainable City Network article (2018-01-01) highlighted the numerous benefits an light emitting diode (LED) “smart” streetlight system can provide to counties and municipalities. The article explained how the benefits go beyond savings in energy bills and include.

As a case study, the article cited the experience of Anchorage, Alaska, which replaced about 4,000 high-pressure sodium streetlights with smart LED lights. The lights are connected to a wireless control network.  The city estimates the $3.4 million dollar upgrade will result in a savings of at least $400,000 per year on energy and maintenance, paying for itself in less than 9 years. From the article:

Gary Agron, division manager of engineering at Municipal Light & Power (ML&P) in Anchorage, said when someone reported that a light had burned out, the first thing staff had to do was go through GIS records to figure out who owned the light – not an easy task when there are at least 11 possibilities, including the city’s park, transit, and street maintenance departments, as well as state agencies, two adjacent utilities, the Alaska Railroad, and others. Only then, could the appropriate agency be dispatched to repair the light.

Now, not only can Agron tell you how many lights ML&P owns, but with a few clicks of a mouse or taps on a mobile device, he can tell you exactly where each light is located, which agency is responsible for it, whether it’s on or off, its intensity, how much energy it’s consuming and the fixture’s “health status.” And, operators can control individual lights or selected groups of fixtures within seconds.

However, city officials are equally excited by the public safety and quality of life benefits the new lights can provide:

“Let’s say the SWAT team wants to turn off a bunch of lights in a neighborhood where they’re going to do an operation,” Agron said. While law enforcement has been known to literally shoot out the lights when they wanted an area to go dark, “now all they have to do is call us and I can remotely access my light grid and go click, click, click, and all those lights go off.”

In another example, Agron said, if authorities are looking for a lost child, the brightness of the lights in a specific neighborhood could potentially be turned up to assist in the search. …

“For example, our parks department knows there’s nobody out on their trails in the winter between midnight and 5 a.m., so they can dim all those lights down to 30 percent during those hours and save a lot of energy. The same goes for their golf course, where people go cross-country skiing in the winter. Nobody’s out there at midnight. Why have those lights on all the time?”

Another example Agron cited is the Port of Anchorage. Security lights can be turned on when there are trucks and equipment moving containers in and out, and turned down or off when no port operations are in progress.

The article also discussed the city’s criteria and selection process for the lighting system and its resident outreach and education efforts prior to the lighting upgrade. Additionally, Agron will be part of a 1-hour Smart LED streetlight webinar hosted by Sustainable City Network. The webinar will be on January 25, 2018, and there is no charge to participate.

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