Why smart streetlights are the gateway drug for smart grids (and smart cities)


Quick Take:  Smart street lights are suddenly the rage amongst cities around the world. The initial impetus is typically energy savings. By replacing old-fashioned bulbs with LEDs, cities can save 40-70% on their street lighting energy bills. And for many cities, street lights eat up 25% or more of their energy budget.


But the LEDs are far from the full story. As long as cities are sending a truck out anyway, they are also installing other gadgets to take advantage of the fact that street lights a) already have power, b) are pervasive throughout the city and c) are perched on a high vantage. They are installing such things as:

  • Communications modules to create a canopy network throughout the city
  • Security cameras
  • Proximetry sensors that dim the lights when there's no one around
  • Software to strobe the lights to lead police and fire to the site of an emergency

Once a city has a canopy network in place, it can then use it for a wide variety of smart grid and smart city applications.

The example below comes from Silver Spring Networks, and there are dozens of other companies offering variations on this theme. I think utilities everywhere should be investigating how to help the cities they serve gain the benefits of smart street lights.   - Jesse Berst


Florida Power & Light Selects Silver Spring Networks for North America’s Largest Networked Street Light Deployment

Silver Spring to Network 75,000 Street Lights Across South Florida


Redwood City, CA - March 6, 2014 - Silver Spring Networks, Inc. (NYSE: SSNI), a leading networking platform and solutions provider for smart energy networks, today announced it has been selected by Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) for North America’s largest networked street light deployment under contract.


FPL plans to deploy Silver Spring’s wireless IPv6 mesh networking technology and management and control software to connect and control 75,000 street lights in the Miami-Dade County region. FPL expects the remote monitoring and control capabilities of the system to significantly improve street light restoration response times and enhance the quality of service to its street light customers. This is an important step in an ongoing effort to modernize and network FPL's power delivery system, including the nearly 500,000 street lights FPL maintains throughout the company’s 35-county service area.

"Silver Spring’s networking technology and street light solution should enable FPL to deliver an even better experience for our customers throughout South Florida,” said Eric Silagy, President of FPL. "With this new street light technology we expect to leverage our smart grid investments and ensure greater efficiencies and reliability for our street light and existing smart grid networks.”