Shining a Light on Smart Lampposts

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2Q 2021 | IN-6179

Smart lampposts provide an untapped opportunity for cities.

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Smart Lampposts to Tackle the COVID-19 Pandemic?


Almost a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, progress on the global scale still looks rather mixed. On one hand, the falling number of cases have led to some countries opening their economies and lessening restrictions. On the other hand, slow vaccine rollouts in Europe, Africa, and parts of Southeast Asia have caused second, third, and, in some cases, fourth waves. Governments are looking to technology to help with stop the spread of the virus to prevent another lockdown and further economic suffering.

The Smart Cities Marketplace Humble Lamppost Initiative recently released a report called “Shining a Global Light”, which demonstrated how smart lampposts can be used to tackle the coronavirus pandemic by drawing on case examples from Barcelona, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, London, Munich, and Singapore. These latest generation smart lampposts can be equipped with sensors that can receive and transmit information on crowd density and body temperature of pedestrians in the area, in addition to other functions such as surveillance, monitoring air quality, weather changes, etc. For example, in Singapore, the government is currently trialing a Smart Nation Sensor Platform (SNSP) project which aims to maximize the use of its street lampposts. Currently, lampposts are being fitted with a network of sensors and cameras to provide support for urban planning and operations. The sensors can monitor conditional changes in the environment such as pollutants, temperature, humidity, and rainfall. Furthermore, analytical capabilities within the cameras can help to count and analyze crowd build-ups, enhancing safety in public spaces.

Untapped Potential of Smart Lampposts


According to the same report mentioned above, there are about 326 million streetlights globally, which is expected to increase to 361 million by 2030. With that many streetlights, there is a huge opportunity for smart lampposts to be a part of the development of smart cities. Currently, the European Union (EU) is in the process of upgrading 10 million lampposts to make them solar-powered smart lampposts that can deliver a multitude of smart city services. Apart from being able to monitor crowd densities and body temperatures of individuals, smart lampposts can offer a host of other services including monitoring traffic flows, hosting a free public Wi-Fi network, security surveillance, and in some cases, charge electric vehicles or electric bikes. More importantly, the collection of data from these smart lampposts can better inform governments on infrastructure improvement decisions, providing pedestrians with a better experience, while also closely monitoring crowd flows during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

A smart city trial in Rome, run by greentech specialist Envision, currently makes use of intelligent vision sensors — Sony Europe’s IMX500 — equipped with AI processing functionality to reduce traffic, optimize public transportation, and enhance pedestrian safety. The primary objective of the trial is to optimize the city’s parking system, which in turn would reduce pollution and gridlock from vehicles cruising around to find a parking space. A smart parking system, where drivers are alerted via a smartphone app on free parking spots closest to their destination, is being evaluated and delivered as part of the trial. In addition, the trial aims to optimize use of the public transport network and reduce accidents on pedestrian crossings.

Opportunity for Cities and Governments


According to ABI Research’s Smart City Market Data report (MD-VCIT-104), the number of smart street lighting WAN connections is forecasted to increase to 108.5 million by 2026, from 43.6 million in 2021, growing at a five-year CAGR of 20%. This growing trend shows the increasing adoption of smart streetlights and lampposts in cities as the functionalities expand through developments in sensors and other technologies. With the number of streetlights expected to increase over the next few years, this untapped potential creates huge opportunities for cities to implement smart lampposts. Not only will they provide energy and cost savings with the use of LED smart lights and solar panels, but they can also be used to collect data on air quality and environmental conditions through various sensor technologies. These would benefit governments in making crucial decisions on infrastructure and social policies to drive development of smart cities. However, it is also important for governments to address privacy concern issues and reassure individuals for its acceptance by the public to be aligned with its implementation into society. The involvement of smart lampposts in the development smart cities will be crucial, especially as innovation in functionalities grows.



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