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Saturday , 9 December 2023


Maximum road safety with minimum operational costs – this is the guiding idea behind ‘Intelligent Street Lighting’. This approach involves much more than simply replacing conventional high pressure sodium lamps with LED light sources.

Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) and the associated concept of the Smart City, all conceivable object and location are connected: cars, cargo containers, car parks and even street lights. These objects will each measure various parameters in their environment and digitize everyday challenges such as finding a parking space, register a change in traffic volume and feed that data into an intelligent transport system (ITS).

Street lighting is no longer an isolated sphere but part of a networked urban infrastructure. The National Programme for LED-based Home and Street Lighting was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2015. At its inception, the plan was to cover 100 cities by March 2016, and the remaining ones by March 2019, targeting 770 million bulbs and 35 million street lights.

The Indian government estimates, by 2020, the LED market will be $3.2 billion. However, the Electric Lamp and Component Manufacturers Association of India (ELCOMA) — the lighting industry body — is far more ambitious in its forecast. It expects LED bulbs to grow up to $6.1 billion a year and constitute 60% of the lighting industry’s turnover by 2020.

An important component of power consumption worldwide is street lighting. India is no different. Global trends in street lighting show that 18-38% of the total energy bill goes towards street lighting and therefore this is one domain that needs major attention if we look at improving efficiency of power consumption with an objective of saving energy.

In most cities, the street lights are installed and maintained by municipalities. Most urban and semi-urban cities and towns are still using a combination of fluorescent, CFL, high pressure sodium lamps or metal halide bulbs, which are not designed to meet area-wise lighting needs. Very little study or planning has gone into the illuminance required in different areas of streets addressing  the needs of pedestrians and vehicular traffic alike. For instance, the lighting needs of vehicular traffic in high speed zones are different from low-speed high traffic zones. Likewise, lighting needs in road crossings are different from secondary roads. Then again, the lighting requirements of an area with vehicular traffic will vary from that of an area with high pedestrian traffic.

A one-size-fits-all approach to street lighting results in inefficient deployment of power resources and ends up in wasteful use of electricity that could have been better utilized elsewhere. Street light planning is not just about luminosity but also the ‘height’ of the lighting mast, which in turn varies based on the requirements of that particular area. Due to a lack of ‘area-wise’ study, standard tenders are issued on a ‘city-wise’ basis, leading to high operational cost incurred on street lighting. Poor maintenance of street lights is another problem, leaving large areas without adequate lighting. The municipalities are hard pressed for funds and it is the citizens who have to face the brunt.

The current government is pushing for smart cities in India with a target of putting up at least a 100 such cities, which will have at least a million residents. The estimated investment will exceed Rs.35,000Cr. In order to keep operational costs down, one sector that needs to be efficiently designed is the electricity generation, distribution and monitoring. In the context of street lighting, the government needs to give special focus on solar power generation (on grid and off grid), use of LED bulbs in street lighting and smart grid monitoring.

LED Lighting is changing the landscape of outdoor lighting. Street lighting has to be smarter to comply with new legislation, environmental challenges and requirements to reduce energy usage. Leading Lighting Solution providers GE, Philips, Osram, Tvilight and DOLL explain how Smart street lighting is very much part of intelligent cities.

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