August 10, 2011

Innovative uses of sensors can reduce city deficits. At a time when governments at all levels are looking for ways to reduce expenses, smart cities can lead the way: this week we will just start with two concrete examples:

Smart lighting:

The Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology is experimenting with a new streetlight system, in which motion sensor-equipped streetlights dim to 20 percent power when no people or moving vehicles are near them. The system is said to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 80 percent, plus it lowers maintenance costs and reduces light pollution.

Delft Management of Technology alumnus Chintan Shah designed the system, which can be added to any dimmable streetlight. The illumination comes from LED bulbs, which are triggered by motion sensors. As a person or car approaches, their movement is detected by the closest streetlight, and its output goes up to 100 percent. Because the lights are all wirelessly linked to one another, the surrounding lights also come on, and only go back down to 20 percent once the commuter has passed through. This essentially creates a “pool of light” that precedes and follows people wherever they go, so any thugs lurking in the area should be clearly visible well in advance.

The lights’ wireless communications system also allows them to automatically notify a central control room when failures (such as burnt-out bulbs) occur. This should make maintenance much simpler, as crews will know exactly where to go, and when.

Some fine-tuning is still ongoing, in order to keep the lights from being activated by things like swaying branches or wandering cats. In the meantime, Shah has formed a spin-off company named Tvilight to market the technology. He claims that municipalities utilizing the system should see it paying for itself within 3 to 4 years of use.



Smart lighting

Delft University technology pitch


Smart watering


At the Barcelona Digital Global congress in early June,, the City of Sant Cugat reported 20 % water savings using their new system and the next target is to reach 40 % savings !


It seems that sensor networks make more and more sense !! (To be continued……………)