You may learn what smart street lighting is, how it developed, and what makes it “smart” by reading this article. You will also learn more about the potential of smart street lighting and how crucial it will be in creating the smart cities of the future.

An overview of intelligent street lighting

Since artificial light first made it possible for us to see in the dark, a long time has passed. Now that technology has improved, we can light the places we live and work as well as the streets we walk on. Due to the widespread adoption of public lighting around the world, this technology has improved our quality of life and made us safer. Today, street lighting is an essential component of both urban and rural infrastructure, fostering a secure environment for both automobiles and pedestrians.

Municipalities’ expenses

Street lighting is a crucial public service for the protection of citizens, and it is the responsibility of public authorities at the local and municipal levels. Yet, this comes at a significant expense to the local government that might be hard to bear. Nevertheless, obsolete and ineffective street lighting systems are still frequently used by municipalities, which increases energy consumption and maintenance expenses. An outdated lighting system may be to blame for up to 50% of a normal city’s energy usage.

Environment-related issues

Large energy usage is a problem that affects people internationally as well as locally. The public lighting system, which connects hundreds of millions of lamps with power sources worldwide, has been dubbed “the nervous system of a city.” As a result of this steadily rising quantity, lighting now accounts for a whopping 19% of all electricity consumed globally, which adds to the already excessive levels of CO2 emissions. By 2050, 68% of the world’s population will reside in urban regions, according to the UN, making the need to safeguard the constrained resources of urban areas more pressing than ever. Municipalities must balance being energy and money efficient with providing a secure environment for their current and future residents.

Costs for municipalities
Interaction levels for solutions including streetlights
  • Nowadays, information is crucial for any city, possibly even more so than actual energy savings. All city administrators like to rely on reliable data to optimize city processes and operations, whether it’s information about the city itself (pollution sensors, for example), the street lights (functionality, electrical characteristics), or both.
  • Street lighting maintenance and functionality are related to operation. Each connected lighting system must have the basic functions of on/off and dimming. The causes of autonomous operation, adaptive illumination, and maintenance optimization can all be furthered.
  • Although it is based on information, optimization shouldn’t be confused with information. It is a completely separate process, and if its advantages are disregarded, any quantity of useful knowledge may become useless. It’s an ongoing goal that may be supported by a city-wide system like intelligent lighting.
  • Synergy is produced via integration. Smart utilities, smart traffic, and smart waste management are all beneficial. They work even better as a unit. While many businesses concentrate on their own area of competence, cities work to enhance the entire system. According to recent studies, the Smart City revolution will be driven by intelligent systems that are open to integration.

Today’s street lighting systems and technologies are developing more quickly than ever before, and they must always offer more in order to help people, cities, and the environment. Municipalities can choose from a variety of smart street lighting control systems, streetlight remote control software solutions, or communication technologies to establish connected street lighting infrastructures when updating the public lighting system. Many of them have advantages both inside and outside the realm of public illumination.

Overview of the street lighting infrastructure

LED Smart Lighting
The street lighting system’s essential components
  • Lumiaire
  • lighting poles (with 1, 2, 3 ore more lamps)
  • Energy cabinet (feeder pillar).Sensors & Contactors
The Street light

A lamp socket—the component of a street lamp—supports mechanically electrical connections and enables easy lamp replacement. The high striking voltage required to light a street lighting is supplied by the ignitor. To create a consistent light output, the ballast (or transformer) lowers the voltage and controls the electric current. Voltage and power flow are stabilized by the capacitor.

Smart street lamps, as opposed to conventional lamps, can be remotely turned on, off, or muted using controllers. They can be installed on the lamp or included into the lamp from the production stage.

HID versus LED lighting

The major goal of intelligent street lighting is to ensure public safety by providing improved illumination for the streets, sidewalks, and parking areas. Smart lighting must meet certain standards for luminance, illuminance or dimness, uniformity, and glare depending on the kind of road in order to ensure the visual safety of vehicles and pedestrians. The most common lights used today to provide high-quality, efficient illumination are HIDs and LEDs.

Even today, HID lamps are frequently utilized to light up large spaces. HID lights are increasingly being replaced with LED lights, despite the fact that they are less expensive to install and replace than LED lights. After only 10,000 hours of operation, HID lights can output up to 70% less visible light, take 20 seconds to warm up to full power, and produce 30% infrared energy, which is essentially lost energy. On the other hand, LEDs don’t require a warm-up period, have a very long lifespan (new LEDs last over 100,000 hours), can cut energy expenses by up to 60%, and pay for themselves in 6 to 18 months.

The lamp post

Lighting poles have been used to mount street lighting sources for millennia, evolving along with lighting technology. Later, they supported communication infrastructure or traffic lights. Yet the most recent technological advancements promise to push it to the forefront of Smart City projects.

Lighting poles are crucial for the creation of smart cities because they are ubiquitous and powered, two qualities that make them such. The street lighting grids are always powered, especially with sophisticated lamp-level control (even during the day – a problem with legacy street lighting). As a result, there are many sensors and Internet of Things (IoT) devices that can be put on and powered by street lighting poles, utilizing any available connectivity and establishing the foundation for Smart City synergies.

The power supply

A gadget in a control cabinet activated by a timer or a photocell is the conventional way to turn on a group of streetlights. Control cabinets are a crucial component when updating the infrastructure for current street lighting. They must be able to support energy-saving innovations like smart lighting management systems and LED lighting. Modern control cabinets, for instance, should be able to connect the street lighting system to the smart sensors and actuators as necessary or send the light switching impulses from a modern lighting control center on to the individual street lighting devices.

Smart controls for street lighting

The challenge of controlling a large number of lamps gave rise to the concept of street lighting control a long time ago. It was necessary to find a solution so that the lamps could be grouped in smaller groups and managed more effectively in terms of turning on and off, managing power outages, performing maintenance, etc. In order to redesign public lighting, lighting panel control and monitoring units (power cabinets, feeder pillars) were developed. This made it possible to manually turn on each individual light segment. These lighting control modules later had controllers added. They served as an automation for turning the light on and off, taking the role of human intervention.

Since then, it has been necessary for street lighting to become more efficient, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly. The ability to control lamps and gather data has led to the evolution of control systems into “smart” systems. By permitting segment-level and lamp-level control via, respectively, cabinet or luminaire controllers, this was made practicable.

Control settings for street lighting
  • A cluster of up to 200 streetlight bulbs make up a smart street lighting system controlled at the segment level. These lamps interact with a power cabinet to enable automatic on/off control. The feeder pillar gathers information from the lamps, controls it, and sends it to a secure server, where it is stored and shown on a dashboard.
  • Luminaire controllers, which feature lamp-level capability and intelligence and provide on/off/dimming control or adaptive lighting, are used to control individual lamps. The electrical parameters feedback for each bulb, real-time fault reporting, and optional sensors to measure light, motion, temperature, humidity, noise, etc. are all features of luminaire controllers. Moreover, lamp-level control maintains the lighting grid kept on throughout the day, making it possible to install other smart city applications like sensors, controllers, CCTV cameras, or communication tools.
Standards for lamp control, sensors, and adaptive lighting

The primary light control standards are 0-10, DALI1, and DALI2 (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface). Making ensuring that the smart lighting controllers are compatible with the control system for the bulbs is crucial.

Certain lighting controls also permit additional connectivity. The system can be expanded with additional sensors to do special tasks, such as mounting extra, unrelated sensors or implementing unique lighting control features. A prime example of this is adaptive lighting. Real-time lamp dimming in response to the presence of vehicles or people is necessary for adaptive lighting. A motion sensor that is typically directly connected to the lighting controller must be added to the lighting pole in addition to the controller’s technological ability.

Types, form factors, and mounting choices for smart street lighting controllers

Every smart lighting installation starts with a lighting controller. The controller can be connected to the light or to the power cabinet, depending on the installation type. Things are really simple to install in the power cabinet. The controllers often resemble plain plastic boxes that may be wired directly to the power supply of the lighting panel because aesthetics are rarely a concern and installation space is rarely an issue. There is typically no shortage of power or communication, and occasionally fiber optic Internet is also available.

But, things could start to become a little difficult when you get closer to lamp level street lighting controllers. You should be aware of the three different categories of restrictions: design, implementation, and communication.

Most of the time, street lamps serve more than just a practical purpose. They now play a significant role in establishing and preserving the architectural value of the area. Whether they are contemporary, traditional, or retro, street lighting fixtures should blend in with the surrounding architecture, and smart lighting controllers shouldn’t undermine that effort. It’s improbable that a municipal architect would permit a contemporary piece of electronics to be seen on their pricey, vintage fixtures made of black wrought iron.

Also, it’s crucial for municipal administrators to keep installation costs as low as possible because any modification to the lighting grid typically entails time-consuming civil works. To provide easy lamp upgrades and quick lighting controller installations, lighting engineers have invested in a number of mounting alternatives.

Controller installation types
  • Installation in a lamp socket is by far the quickest approach to install smart street lighting. Today’s lamps come with a NEMA or Zhaga socket choice, making installation essentially plug-and-play. The American socket standard gave rise to the NEMA socket (ANSI C136.41), a street lighting connector that is used all over the world. Zhaga is a more modern, smaller connector that was created specifically for the tiny LED lighting of today and is ready to take over the streets.
  • Compact controllers that can be put inside the bulb, sometimes directly off the production line, are called embedded controllers. It provides additional value for lamp makers while preserving the architectural value of the light in the best possible way.
  • Pole-Mounted Controllers: The most adaptable choice for smart street lighting installations, installed within or on the lighting pole. It is the most flexible option available, even though it is more difficult to install (it typically requires custom mounting and direct wire connection) and more expensive (their design needs to be weather resistant – usually IP66), as it does not require any special connections or specific lamp types. It connects directly, making it possible to adapt already-installed street lighting systems with little visible impact and almost no civil work.

Technology for communications

What is a smart street light(2)

Depending on the distance at which nodes may connect with gateways and other nodes, communication networks can operate over a variety of distances.

Powerline communication

By directly transmitting a communication signal onto the powerlines, wired or powerline communication (PLC) operates across great distances. Continuous connection is established through uninterrupted cables, and the PLC signal typically does not pass through any transformers or power conditioning equipment. For example, powerful power-line communication technology for cutting-edge streetlight systems is called LonWorks.

In terms of street lighting, clusters of streetlights frequently share a single powerline. Both these street lights and gateways leading to supervisory control systems are capable of communication.

Gateways are devices that coordinate communication between the lighting control software and up to 200 lighting controllers. The messages received from the controllers are transferred to the management platform, where they may be analyzed, by an IoT gateway using a wireless connection.

Radio transmission (RF)

The majority of the drawbacks of powerline communication are overcome in the realm of street lighting by radio control (RF). Even though the majority of smart street lighting systems operate similarly, there are many alternative ways for linked smart streetlights and the CMS to exchange data. Cellular (2G, 3G, LTE, 5G, and NB-IoT) technologies, RF mesh, LoRa, Wi-Fi, and other medium- to long-range options are some of these. Check out this comparison of the major cellphone networks here.

Streetlights are located roughly 50 meters apart, but the maximum node-to-node distance of a short-range network like RF mesh is 200–300 meters. Urban locations, where lamps are installed closer together and the message doesn’t need to travel over great distances, are a good fit for short-range networks. This type of network necessitates meticulous preparatory network planning that accounts for node density and gateway placement, which raises the cost of first implementation. Yet, because there are no data fees in an RF mesh network, operating expenses are far cheaper than in a cellular network.

Remote control software for streetlights

How smart street lights improve citizen safety (1)

Large-scale public lighting networks may be managed by local governments thanks to modern smart lighting control systems that mix hardware and software components. Since the communication is two-way, lighting can be remotely controlled while sending information to be gathered, stored, displayed, and evaluated in the software program. Also, notifications of any system faults aid municipalities in taking prompt, effective action.

Be sure the software solution satisfies your most pressing needs when selecting a lighting control system. But, keep in mind that a smart lighting management software’s effectiveness is not just based on its functions. The hardware installed and the communication technologies will also have an impact.

Examining some factors before selecting a smart lighting control program
  • Does the software support dimming and adaptive lighting features or only the most basic control options (on/off)?
  • In-depth grid awareness (detailed information and inventory features) is provided by the system? Is there a predetermined list of parameters that the system can handle, or is it flexible enough to add additional parameters?
  • The software is it safe? Does it employ VPN and the most recent data encryption technology?
    Is the reporting functionality set up to support your smart city/street lighting system optimization?
  • How do notifications and tickets work? Are user-level access controls and a standard daily notification system available so that maintenance teams can be deployed automatically?
  • Can the business fully modify the software to meet your local needs? For instance, localization, translation, and specific integrations
  • Is the program intended to work with sensors and other smart devices? Does it support significant standards like TALQ and does it provide north-bound and south-bound API integrations?
  • Can the system be installed on a local computer (standalone installation) and controlled within a closed circuit if having a closed system is vital to you? Or is it just offered as a SAAS (cloud service, which typically provides greater flexibility and automated updates)?

A streetlight control software can easily be linked with other systems, IoT apps, and devices by utilizing an open design. Moreover, approved standards like TALQ encourage the interoperability of solutions and create a vendor-neutral ecosystem. This is a good starting point for creating a sophisticated, genuinely open smart city platform.

Future Smart Cities and IoT integration
Future Smart Cities and IoT integration

What the future holds for smart street lighting is still somewhat unknown. The main trend is toward full interconnectivity on the IoT platform and repurposing current street lighting equipment. Modern intelligent street lighting systems can already be used with other technologies, such as broadband connectivity, smart parking, public safety video monitoring, traffic control, and electric vehicle charging stations.

Future smart cities will be built on the foundation of intelligent street lighting. Smart street lighting systems connect more than 360 million streetlights globally, turning the lighting grid of cities into a single, centralized network. Street poles are the perfect place to attach smart city devices like security cameras, environmental sensors, traffic counts, or electric vehicle chargers since they provide constant access to power. Each bulb becomes an IoT-ready installation platform by linking every lighting pole to a larger network connection, which will serve as a foundation for larger investments in smart cities.


Every city in the world must cope with the issue of urbanization. The smart city market is worth $600 billion, and by 2025, 600 cities will be responsible for 60% of global GDP. By 2050, more than 60% of the world’s population is anticipated to reside in urban areas, making it essential that these cities provide a secure, acceptable environment for their inhabitants. The ultimate purpose of smart cities is to raise the standard of living for their inhabitants. The future is intelligent.

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