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Smart Lighting: An Ideal Beginning to a Smart City

Lighting is one of the most substantial energy costs for cities and can often drain the municipal budget. The annual fee to keep the streets bright can draw towards the millions, which motivates city planners to find ways to decrease that expense. Smart lighting can help.

Implementing smart lighting is a good early step for municipalities transitioning to a smart city because it saves money and improves efficiency. Smart lighting with LED bulbs use far less energy, and they can be set to dim when no one is around. This leads to significant savings, which means cities can begin to think about other smart city measures after reaping the benefits of connected lighting.

3 Cities that Are Succeeding with Smart Lighting Right Now


All around the country, cities are changing the way they light their streets. Chicago¹, for example, is now “undertaking one of the largest street lighting modernization programs in the country.” The city plans to change 270,000 city lights over the next four years, replacing them with energy-efficient LEDs and smart controls.

The project consists of four phases to bring Chicago’s lighting system into the intelligent age with controls that can efficiently manage the lighting around the city. In addition to energy savings of up to $10 million a year, Chicago’s residents will benefit from a wireless lighting management system that provides real-time outage updates. That will help the city expedite repairs, meaning less time in the dark.

Los Angeles

On the west coast, Los Angeles is leading the way with their smart city lights in preparation for the 2028 Summer Olympics². Los Angeles has already replaced 180,000 city lights with LEDs, which has resulted in saving over $10 million per year by using 70% less energy. That represents almost 50,000 metric tons of reduced carbon emissions.

The new connected smart light poles will be complete with remote monitoring sensors and cameras, improving safety for LA’s visitors during the busy Olympics months. The poles will also display digital informational banners, provide wi-fi connectivity, USB chargers, and more.

Kansas City

In the Midwest, Kansas City also made a change to its lighting³ by implementing smart lighting along their new streetcar line. The lights automatically go on when the sun sets and dim when the streets are empty. The LED lights used have a 20-year lifespan, which will mean plenty of savings for the city.

Another unexpected benefit? Reduced delays. Because the smart lights also include video camera sensors, city managers can see if something is blocking the streetcar’s path. If there is something in the way, a notification is automatically sent to the city’s tow truck company, meaning a reduced delay time for all passengers.

Use Smart Lighting to Reduce Costs as You Start Transitioning to a Smart City

Smart lighting is an excellent first step of digital transformation for a municipality that wants to become a smart city because both city officials and the public can clearly see the benefits. Efficient lighting helps cities reduce costs, repairs, and their carbon footprint. Furthermore, smart lighting increases efficiencies since LED lights use less energy and repair notifications are sent out in real time. Municipalities can then use cost savings and public buy-in as a starting point for other smart city projects.

5 Smart City Projects You Can Implement Now

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Case Study: IoT is redefining the customer experience. Nokia case study.

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