Paris Streetlights-The Start of a Smart City Network

Paris’ street lighting project is aimed at networking existing technologies to enhance operational efficiency
Published: Fri 17 Apr 2015

California-based wireless networking provider Silver Spring Networks will be carrying out the city wide deployment of a wireless canopy to connect streetlights and traffic signals across Paris. The company will be working in partnership with EVESA, which controls city’s public lighting networks.

EVESA, a consortium named after participating companies ETDE, Vinci Energies, Satelec and Aximum, was formed in 2011 to follow through on Paris’ ambitious lighting efficiency project which is going to cost approximately €500 million to €700 million (US$650 million to US$900 million).

Pretty smart lighting

The focus of the project is to enhance control over existing lights. This forms part of the city’s aim to cut its lighting energy consumption by 30% from 2004 levels by 2020 without losing its nighttime charm. Attaining that goal without implementing unpopular lights-out regimes or changing the look and feel of the city’s famous nightscapes is no easy task.

“When you’re thinking about applying smart technologies to a city like Paris, it’s a really different environment than if you were doing it in a brand new city in China,” Eric Dresselhuys, Silver Spring’s executive vice president of global sales, said. “This is a city that puts a lot of value on preserving the aesthetics, the look and the feel, and the livability of the city.”

EVESA also wants to be able to pinpoint faulty or burned-out lights more efficiently, adjust lighting schedules on a seasonal basis, and use wireless signals to reach both above-ground and underground control cabinets that control the strings of street lights.

Dresselhuys explains that at each of these control points is also a built-in meter which will monitor the electricity usage at each device. This will help with preventative maintenance, as well as track the city’s progress toward its energy saving goals.

More than just smart street lighting

Silver Spring estimates that replacing existing street lights with LED-based lamps can cut energy and operations costs by 50% or more. Networking those LEDs can further increase the ROI, reducing the payback period to as little as 6 years.

But smart street lighting has become more than just the LED bulbs. Cities are now installing gadgets to take advantage of the fact that streetlights already have power, are pervasive throughout the city, and are located on a high vantage point. [Engerati-Smart Street Lights-Not Only About Energy Savings.] Such gadgets include:

Silver Spring has several other street lighting projects underway. Among these the plan to network almost 500,000 street lights for Florida Power & Light is believed to be the largest networked street lights programme under contract in the world. The company has also been expanding beyond street lights into more ambitious “smart city” projects. SIlver Spring is currently investigating the possibility of a wireless network in the south west UK city of Bristol, which will involve the networking of smart parking meters, traffic congestion sensors, safety cameras, air quality sensors and other such devices.

“Based on our experiences in Copenhagen, Bristol, Glasgow and places like this, you’re going to see people very interested in doing traffic controls [and] environmental monitoring,” Dresselhuys said. “You could imagine public safety coming into the mix, with streetlights that can strobe on and off to guide police or ambulances to the scene of crimes or accidents.”

Other companies like Itron, Sensus, Landis+Gyr, Cisco, IBM, Siemens and Microsoft are sharing similar smart city visions. [Engerati-Driving Innovation and Sustainability: The Detroit Smart City Demonstration Project; Decentralized Energy Concepts for Smart Buildings in Smart Grids - Project Introduction Aspern, Vienna's Urban Lakeside

Street lights are an obvious starting point for smart city networks, with economic and efficiency benefits that can justify the upfront costs. Their location throughout a city makes them useful launch points for connecting other smart devices.