Recently due to budget cuts around the country (and around the world) councils have been turning off street lights to cut costs. For example Derbyshire County Council saved £400,000 a year by switching off 40% of their street lights with some councils even saving more. But going back to complete blackness isn’t the best thing to do in terms of safety for pedestrians and motorists alike. Sure motorists have headlights but this doesn’t stop people getting run over or involved in accidents.
Theres is a problem with streetlights though. There have been studies linking excess nighttime light pollution to decreased melatonin production which can thus increase the rick of breast cancer in women. On average it costs 15p per night to power one streetlight in winter and with 7.5 million in the UK alone it costs over £1000000 to power streetlights in winter everyday. Yearly these streetlights produce around 830000 tons of CO2 emissions. Unfortunately 27.3% of streetlight energy is wasted, through the lights being on when they are not needed or on when no one is around. This accounts to around £100 million spent on powering unused streetlights each year! A frankly disgusting amount, so something needs to be done to not only tackle the wasted money, but more importantly the carbon emissions from this wasted energy - as I don’t need to explain how continuing like this will only further damage our planet. We can only create a greener future with smarter and more efficient systems in place to utilize the energy we have available today and tomorrow.
Cue the intelligent streetlights.
Using Ultrasonic Distance Sensors on each streetlight, they can identify when people are walking near them and turn on themselves and a series of other streetlights in relation to it. So that a series of lights are turned on according to where the person is walking. The exact amount totally depends on the area, you may have streetlights every 5 meters, or every 10. The terrain may be incredibly hilly, or very flat. As you wouldn't want to have lights turning on right in front of the user as this is not only distracting, but also dangerous and could scare the user! EDIT: See my post on examples of how this would work…
This will have a huge effect financially saving 100‘s of millions each year in the UK alone. Plus it would help the fight against carbon emissions, reducing over 232,400 tons a year!
With automated streetlights, you can monitor movements around a city, to optimise routes for certain events, or make the data available to assist all sorts of initiatives. This could lead to smarter towns and cities by focusing future investments in public spaces with the most footfall etc. The possibilities are pretty much endless when it comes to using the data you would be able to collect.