Shine Smarter

Some inner cities would like to be really smart. But to do that they would have to get their traffic under control. Intelligent lighting systems could help here and there. They provide the digital infrastructure with which traffic jams can be better avoided in the future.

Continental's Street Lamp is intended to serve as a valuable data source for smart cities. Photo: Continental

Continental’s Street Lamp is intended to serve as a valuable data source for smart cities. Photo: Continental

Digital technologies are the backbone of every Smart City. However, not all problems of the analogue world can easily be solved the smart way. If that were the case, then the Digital City of Darmstadt, one of the smartest cities in Germany according to the IT industry association Bitkom, would always play for the championship title in the German Soccer League. On the other hand, the people of Darmstadt would like to get rid of another title. Until recently, the city of science was considered the number one traffic jam city in Hesse. In its “Green City Plan”, the metropolis is now focusing on the digitalization of traffic control in order to guide cars, buses and trucks smoothly through the city center. This calls for reliable data on traffic volume, air quality and noise emissions.

The new streetlights are formidable high-tech systems

A pilot project with intelligent street lamps is currently underway in Wädenswil, Switzerland, the third largest municipality in the Canton of Zurich. The luminaires with integrated routers are multifunctional in design. On the one hand, they form the basis for public WiFi, but also provide sockets for charging electric cars. In a further pilot project, the Ruhr metropolis of Bochum is also relying on intelligent lighting poles to avoid traffic jams in the city center. The idea behind this is that more efficiency in the provision of parking spaces will save many unnecessary journeys. In this case, the smart solution consists of a light pole with a photo sensor at the upper end that looks at around 30 parking spaces on the roadside. The system detects whether the spaces are free or occupied and forwards the information to a parking guidance system.

Public WiFi and fewer traffic jams thanks to intelligent lighting systems

The Swiss luminaire has a WiFi antenna and charging stations for e-cars. Photo: Elektron

The Swiss luminaire has a WiFi antenna and charging stations for e-cars. Photo: Elektron

A pilot project with intelligent street lamps is currently underway in Wädenswil, Switzerland, the third largest municipality in the Canton of Zurich. The luminaires with integrated routers are multifunctional in design. On the one hand, they form the basis for public WiFi, but also provide sockets for charging electric cars. In a further pilot project, the Ruhr metropolis of Bochum is also relying on intelligent lighting poles to avoid traffic jams in the city center. The idea behind this is that more efficiency in the provision of parking spaces will save many unnecessary journeys. In this case, the smart solution consists of a light pole with a photo sensor at the upper end that looks at around 30 parking spaces on the roadside. The system detects whether the spaces are free or occupied and forwards the information to a parking guidance system.

Smart Lighting in Darmstadt

In Darmstadt, too, city planners are relying on traffic control with the help of smart luminaires. “When it comes to protecting the environment or improving traffic management in the city, intelligent street lamps can offer good applications,” says José David da Torre Suárez, Managing Director of Digitalstadt Darmstadt. The “Smart Lighthing” pilot project launched at the beginning of February 2019 shows what the integration of these systems could look like in practice. The sensory equipment of the installed luminaires measures the emissions of noise and carbon dioxide, the number of pedestrians, cyclists and passing vehicles. A radio module then sends the measurement data to the analysis platform of the cooperation partner ICE Gateway. The receiver of the processed data is the Traffic Control Department of the Road Traffic and Civil Engineering Office. It combines this information with the data from the existing environmental sensor network.

The smart lights will issue traffic warnings in the future

The sensor data from the smart luminaires can also be called up via tablets. Photo: Anja Mendel

The sensor data from the smart luminaires can also be called up via tablets. Photo: Anja Mendel

The pilot project in the Science City starts with a network of three smart street lamps located between the Palace, Congress Centre and State Museum. The initial focus is on optimizing traffic flows in the city area and avoiding traffic jams. However, intelligent lamps could also play a role in improving traffic safety in the near future. The automotive supplier Continental would have the right system in its range. The “Intelligent Street Lamp” not only performs tasks such as monitoring and analyzing the environment. It is also a building block in vehicle-to-X communication (V2X).

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