There are around 60 million streetlights in Europe and most of them have been lighting up the roads for at least 25 years. These lights are usually not energy efficient, which accounts for between 20% and 50% of local government energy bills.
In this context, the Humble Lamppost, a subgroup of the Integrated Infrastructures & Processes Action Cluster within the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities & Communities (EIP-SCC), is working to upgrade 10 million of these streetlights with low-energy LED bulbs. This action could lead to a decrease in energy costs of between 50% to 75% and to a reduction of emissions. Importantly, some of these new lampposts will have smart characteristics: at the same time as they light up the streets, they can monitor air quality, help improve security, improve parking and traffic management, support electronic signage, and provide mesh Wi-Fi.
Graham Colclough, leader of the project and chair of the Integrated Infrastructures & Processes Action Cluster, explained that the initiative will be based on an “open component-based design” –akin to ‘Lego’– that will improve services and reduce costs. That means encouraging manufacturers to produce different parts that could be combined to make streetlights smarter in order to avoid replacing millions of lampposts in Europe. I also means that cities will benefit from working together to aggregate demand.
This project was launched early in 2014 and Graham is confident that it will be put into action as “lots of smart city ideas are quite abstract, but lampposts and lighting are things that Mayors through to the public grasp easily and see every day, so the benefits are much clearer and more immediate. This offers many cities a practical way to kick-start their smart city journey!”.