Today's urban society is advancing at a dizzying pace towards more complex but also more habitable environments thanks to services driven by the new technologies.
In an advanced city of today, communication and data management are vital when providing quality and environmentally sustainable services that are designed to meet the needs of residents.
In this regard, when the time comes to design measures to improve these services, the approach taken by municipal managers must be as wide as possible, because the relationship between urban services is becoming increasingly closer and as such, decisions have an impact on and condition services that were not traditionally related to each other. For example, the street lighting service inter-relates with services covering water, environmental management, parks and gardens. The measures taken on one can impact or condition all the others.
Thus, a resident of a municipality equipped with interconnected infrastructures will see their corresponding improvements reflected in their daily lives, both directly through the qualitative improvement to the services received, and in the quantitative impact that they have on the municipal coffers.
Lighting in general and street lighting in particular, as an infrastructure that already exists and which is essential for the city, plays a very important role as a physical support infrastructure, not only to provide illumination but also as a necessary platform for the optimal operation of many other services.
This dual approach is valid for any improvement to the street lighting installation undertaken and the results will be determined by the value and proper implementation of its technical and commercial project.
For this the following factors must be established:
1. Planning and setting objectives
This is the start and foundation of everything that, for better or for worse, will happen after. Managers and municipal technicians must correctly diagnose the status of the current services and infrastructures from both the technical and economic point of view, taking into account the cost of maintenance and operation, as well as the quality of the service provided.
This analysis is crucial in order to subsequently determine the objectives to be achieved by taken these measures and their order of priority.
The factors generally taken into account are: the economic and energy saving; the improvement to the lighting; the optimisation of operating costs; the environmental improvement; and the desired model for both city and services.
On this point, one essential decision to be taken is if the aim only sets out to improve the street lighting, on the basis of the different offers of added value and improved service, or whether it should be taken a step further.
By simply retrofitting lighting fixtures with LED technology, with its track record and proven features, we can improve the performance of existing luminaires while achieving energy savings of over 50% compared to former conventional technologies based on discharge lamps.
If we add the regulation of the light intensity by time and by zone, choosing programmable lighting fixtures that are customised to each location, we can easily achieve savings of more than 70%.
Finally, if we include management systems, we can rationalise lighting to meet the changing demand, achieving energy savings in excess of 80% compared to the previous situation. More importantly, we are creating a tool that is able to update our installation in an easy and flexible manner, adapting to every need that may arise in future while optimising its operation and maintenance in an extraordinary fashion. In the latter case, this benefit is largely related to an enhanced user experience.
2. Engineering, technological choice and the implementation of the technical and administrative project
Having established the quantitative and qualitative objectives to be achieved, this is the moment to identify the technology and providers able to implement the project. This is not an easy process as there are so many options available. Accredited professionals, existing legislation as well as recommendations from independent bodies such as the Institute for Energy Diversification and Saving (IDAE), and in the case of lighting, from the Spanish Association of Lighting Manufacturers (ANFALUM) and the Spanish Committee for Lighting (CEI), can and must help select the most potentially appropriate technologies for each project.
In any event, the requirement to use materials and products that have European certifications as well as wireless systems and communications networks based on open standard protocols, aligned with the integration of systems within the IoT ecosystem (Internet of Things) and with cloud management, guarantee reliability and permanence over time.
3. Executing the measures
The implementation of the measures, works, supply of material and deployment of the equipment and systems largely depends on the two previous steps. This is a fundamental aspect as there is a sure risk of having to deal with unexpected problems during the implementation of the projects that only accredited professionals and projects with solvent planning are capable of addressing with a degree of certainty.
4. Operation and use of the installation
This is one of the points that must be decided during the initial phase, once the status of our installations has been analysed, as there is no point in having a model installation if no-one knows how to properly use or operate it.
Here we should emphasise the associated business model that could be implemented by the municipal services themselves, through contracts or concessions to service-providing companies such as ESCOs. All these are perfectly valid and as a result, the existence of a management system improves the operation of the infrastructure while optimising the necessary resources.
And it must be remembered that data is acquiring a fundamental value. This is why it is essential to have systems capable of acquiring, transferring and processing this data in the best way possible.
To sum up, we are shifting towards a concept in which the lighting fixture is a node that provides services, one of which and perhaps the most fundamental is street lighting. However it is not the only one and we have to be prepared for every innovation that street lighting can bring us today and also what it will be able to offer us tomorrow.
Business Development Manager – ELT Smart Systems Division