How the street light has been given a hi-tech makeover

Next time you're out after dark, spare a thought for the humble street light. It's not so humble anymore.

Not only are light bulbs getting sharper and more energy efficient as they are upgraded to LEDs, but they increasingly help fight crime, promote safe cycling and even protect turtles.

That's because street lights are also becoming the eyes and ears of "smart" cities.

Lamp posts double as data collectors, communicating with a central control system that makes automated decisions about when they are on, for how long, and the brightness.

Their supporters say the benefits include safer streets, calmer roads and considerable cost savings.

In a data-driven world it makes sense to adapt existing street furniture for this purpose, says smart cities expert Dr Theo Tryfonas, from Bristol University's Faculty of Engineering.

"It's better than acquiring boxes and hardware," he says. "There needs to be a shift in our mentality towards utilities. We have electricity, water - the fourth or fifth utility should be information."

Add comment


Security code
Refresh