Shining a light on innovation

Roads & Civil Works Magazine looks at what 2017 holds for the innovative lighting space, and what this means for Smart Cities and the roads and civil works industry.In April last year, the Australian Government launched its Smart Cities Plan – a strategy to help the nation’s cities become more productive, accessible, and most of all, liveable.

Broadly speaking, the Smart Cities concept envisages an urban development that integrates multiple information and communication technologies to help manage a city’s assets, which has major implications on the wider road and civil infrastructure sector.

Like many countries, Australia is embracing the Smart Cities idea. Many different elements need to be taken into consideration during these early stages in the process.

Lighting is one ingredient in the recipe for Smart Cities, and may have an important role in how Australia best optimises the concept for its major metropolitan hubs.

“Connected lighting can be a key factor to enable Smart Cities,” says Jacek Lipiec, Outdoor Systems Sales Specialist at Philips Lighting Australia.

“Smart road lighting networks can be used as a platform to improve the delivery of community services, productivity, disaster resilience and liveability by transmitting community-wide data and establishing connectivity with other devices in the public domain.”

Mr. Lipiec says cities such as Los Angeles, Barcelona and Buenos Aires are all using connected street lighting as a pathway to becoming smart cities.

“These lighting systems open up other opportunities for cities. In Los Angeles, for example, with the upgrade to LED lighting, they have also introduced smart street poles which can deliver local Wi-Fi and be used as electric vehicle charging stations,” he says.

“Globally, lighting is one industry where the potential of connected technologies is being rapidly realised and is moving to public spaces with the introduction of smart road and infrastructure lighting.”

This past November saw the announcement of a city-wide LED upgrade of Jakarta’s 90,000 street lights, connected to a Philips CityTouch lighting management system. This is just one of the first steps towards establishing the Indonesian capital as a smart city where everything is connected to enable residents to live safely and more comfortably.

“With the move to digital and connected LED lighting, systems are now available to support other spaces such as parks and plazas, arenas, airports, tunnels, bridges, monuments and building façades,” adds Mr. Lipiec.

Connected technology in the lighting space has become a recurring theme in lighting innovation and plays a major role in the outdoor lighting trends for 2017.

“For outdoor lighting, the key trends are the increased conversion to LED and connectivity so that lighting can be used as a smart network,” he says.

“In the road and infrastructure sector, lighting management systems allow real-time lighting status reporting, energy use reporting, light level scheduling, automatic failure reporting and many other features at a click.”

The conversion to LED lighting brings with it some significant environmental benefits, particularly in helping central and local government to achieve large energy savings.

According to a recent report from the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia’s Australian Street Lighting and Smart Controls (SLSC) program, entitled the SLSC Roadmap, upgrading to LED road lighting can result in energy and greenhouse gas savings of at least 52 per cent.

A further 10 to 20 per cent energy saving can be achieved if smart controls are included.

“In addition, a 50 per cent plus reduction in street lighting maintenance costs from the greatly improved reliability of LEDs and through better asset management can also be realised,” says Mr. Lipiec.

“With these energy and maintenance savings, cities have the opportunity to invest in other infrastructure as well as meeting their sustainability goals, which are becoming more important both overseas and in Australia.”

But, Mr. Lipiec says Australia has a way to go in utilising these lighting trends and innovations. “There are around 2.35 million streetlights in Australia, but current upgrades to LED lighting is estimated at only 10 per cent,” says Mr. Lipiec.

“There are 2200 smart controls on streetlight points undergoing trials or as pilots, which is less than one per cent of the total LED streetlights. Both are much lower than the rates in comparable overseas countries, particularly compared to Europe and the United States.”

However, he says there are some good examples of road and street LED lighting projects around Australia which Philips Lighting has been involved in, including façade lighting for the Adelaide Entertainment Centre and the Gateway Bridge lighting in Western Australia.

Mr. Lipiec explains that the overall trends in lighting innovation and technology go a long way to helping establish the Smart City concept but also to evolve the relationship between populations, their governments, homes and public spaces.

“In a recently commissioned study by the Economists Intelligence Unit, overwhelmingly residents appear to want to inform the planning of the city in which they live, and believe they have the most to contribute when it comes to social services, pollution reduction and waste collection,” he says.

According to the findings, 32 per cent of residents currently provide feedback to their local government and more than 50 per cent would like to do so. Nearly a third of surveyed populations also recognised the current impact of technology on city services, with a quarter of businesses believing that digital technologies will impact positively the provision of services such as transport in the near future.

“The real potential of these new technologies is in bringing feedback to a larger scale and in real-time,” says Mr. Lipiec.

“Digital technologies can establish a flow of real-time feedback on a city’s infrastructure, such as transport, lighting and water, improving efficiencies and proactively managing issues to the benefit of users and the city.” 

Interesting? Share this article