London to use smart light platform to improve energy efficiency

The City of London, as well as the boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, will be installing 28,000 smart street lights.
Published: Wed 16 Aug 2017

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Software company Silver Spring Networks and DW Windsor Group-owned living network company Urbancontrol have partnered to connect approximately 12,000 LED street lights in the City of London and 15,500 in Barking and Dagenham.

The lights, which will eventually become part of an Internet of Things (IoT) scheme, will collect data on traffic, parking, noise, and even air quality.

The lights will be connected to wireless mesh controls based on Internet protocols, using Silver Spring Network’s Starfish mesh network which is currently being used by the City of Westminster, another London borough. Starfish is based on the company’s existing, secure wireless network and data platform which is built on the Wi-SUN IoT mesh technology specification.

Creating a green London

Giles Radford, highways manager of the City of London Corporation, said in a statement that the smart street lights will help the City of London achieve its energy savings goals and reduce operational costs, while also improving service reliability and helping to lay a platform for future IoT applications.

He explained: “The reliability, resilience and cyber security of the system were key requirements for us. We thoroughly evaluated technology options which were proven to connect critical devices at-scale, and guarantee highly reliable coverage, regardless of where the device is connected in the City.”

In East London, the boroughs of Barking and Dagenham are aiming to improve energy efficiency by investing in the platform. It’s become a core part of the boroughs’ goal to become the Green Energy Capital of London.

Wireless mesh technology

The mesh topology treats street lights as nodes in a network, enabling lights to relay data to each other thereby easing the process of remotely powering on/off and adjusting the brightness of the lights. The system also monitors the performance of each light which reduces maintenance costs.

Wireless mesh technology has grabbed lighting headlines recently because the Bluetooth Special Interest Group last month issued a long awaited standard for meshing Bluetooth devices including LED lights.

But, Bluetooth is not the only mesh game in town. For instance, Holland's Chess Wise is installing its proprietary Myria Mesh wireless controls at a large chemical plant in southern Holland, the Chemelot Industrial Park in Geleen. The site has tapped wireless mesh controls to assure that new outdoor LED lighting switches on, off, up, and down when and where necessary in a lighting-as-a-service (LaaS) scheme that has saved the company in upfront capital costs and it reduces the troublesome and costly requirement to keep the operations lit 24.7. 

Previously, Chemelot had to leave 17,000 fluorescent lights on for 24 hours a day because physically switching them creates a potential spark hazard under an EU directive known as ATEX, which governs operations in explosive environments.

The wireless mesh controls avoid this danger by switching the lights off and dimming them. This translates into massive savings in electricity and carbon emissions.

“Because we ‘switch' the lights with software, dimming and switching is now possible,” said Han Bak, CEO of Haarlem-based Chess Wise, the company providing the mesh technology which it calls MyriaMesh. “The main thing is the lights are only on when you really need light, which is completely the opposite of the existing situation, when the lights were on 24/7.”

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