Smart street lighting has already replaced the traditional street lights in many Smart Cities around the globe. These smart fixtures are showing multiple capabilities like traffic analytics, air quality monitoring, waste monitoring, etc. Some also act as WiFi access points. Of course, controlling the light intensity based on movements is its core responsibility.
But today, when we dive into the innovation of ‘smart pole’, smart street lighting appears like the thing of the past. It is the new generation intelligent street lighting in Smart Cities gone way forward in providing a multifunctional service. It performs all that a smart street light does.
But more than that it comprises inbuilt surveillance systems that connect with the city’s security department. It also acts as an emergency communication element with announcement speakers and digital signage. When your battery-powered vehicle is low on charge, just stop by the pole and get it recharged. You can do the same for your mobile phone as well.
Smart poles are also equipped with smart sensors that monitor accidents, crime, parking, weather conditions, and more. The designers of the smart pole have made all this effective by integrating the pole with 4G LTE or 5G wireless technology.
Just knowing the features of smart pole stirs interest in the users. It’s obvious that its demand will rise in the future. Transparency Market Research predicts that the smart pole market is likely to draw a value of over US$ 10,000 by 2022.
What unfolds next will take you deeper into understanding the capability of a smart pole.
All-In-One Smart Pole
Signify, formerly known as Philips Lighting has introduced an all-in-one smart pole platform. The new BrightSites IoT poles are designed on earlier smart pole technology built by Signify and Ericsson.
It provides LED lighting and 4G LTE/5G wireless connectivity from small-cell based stations present inside the pole. The evolved solution from Signify boasts a range of IoT applications, uninterrupted connectivity, environmental sensors, and cameras. It also has controllable energy-efficient LED lighting.
Sensors – Monitor air quality, noise pollution and incident detection. Then it gathers the data to help in decision-making to enhance livability in urban areas.
Cameras – Keep eye on road conditions to support the optimization of traffic flows. It also helps in maintenance decisions and emergency crew deployment.
Smart Microphone – These are equipped with advanced pattern recognition. This triggers upon detection of noises relating to anti-social behaviour. This may include shouting, car alarms, breaking of glass, or gunshots. As a response, it automatically brightens the light, records audio, and alerts emergency services.
Digital Screen – Displays important information, emergency messages and advertisements.
A new set of services such as telecommunication and advertising can generate revenue for municipalities.
The BrightSites Smart Pole has already been installed in different Smart Cities around the globe. Two of the earliest ones are San Jose in the US and L’Hospitalet in Spain.
A Beachside Smart Pole
Algarve in Portugal will soon have a smart pole that manages the occupancy and safe distance in beach areas. The smart pole has the technology from Omniflow, a provider of carbon-neutral smart IoT applications.
The company generates energy from the wind and the sun and stores it through built-in batteries. These batteries power the smart poles and make them sustainable. Moreover, this technology also helps in facilitating implementation taking the infrastructure and time for deployment into account.
Coming to its features, the smart pole consists of smart lighting, telecommunications, and AI sensors. The sensors evaluate and show how many beachgoers are present at the beach.
A traffic light system signals beachgoers when the beach is full. If the number exceeds the limit, a red light is shown on the screen with an audio warning message. It says that the area is full and beachgoers should head to a quieter area.
The audio system can be programmed to emit warning signals for safe social distancing. There is also an option to equip the pole with a module for contactless body temperature scanning and hand sanitizer gel.
The information about the occupancy can also be broadcasted to a mobile app which helps the user to access the information in real-time. At the same time, the user can also see historical data of hourly populations.
The smart pole is expected to play a major role in the post-lockdown situation at Smart Cities. It will inform the public about the best practice to ensure a safe beach time.
5G Smart Pole
NEC, part of the Sumitomo Corporation general trading group in partnership with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will test 5G smart poles. The trial in the city of Tokyo in Japan will be deployed in areas where installing full-size 5G towers is impractical.
NEC’s intelligent street lighting uses LED technology and centralized control to cut down energy usage and costs. The poles are integrated with sensor network infrastructure that effectively accumulates city-data.
Two models of NEC’s smart street lighting will be outfitted with several functions. Two of them include digital signage and pedestrian traffic flow analysis cameras. One model will be integrated with a shared 5G antenna system for collective use by multiple telecommunications carriers. And the other model will have 5G base stations for multiple telecommunications carriers.
Sumitomo Corporation aims to install the two models in the Nishi-Shinjuku area of Tokyo by June 2020. As per NEC, 5G shared antenna systems will be available for commercial use across the city by March 2021. Further, there are also plans to develop new and upgraded services for residents and visitors in Tokyo.
The installation and trial of 5G smart poles are a part of the ‘Safer Cities’ initiative. The company seeks to deliver infrastructure that enables the provision of new community services across Japan.
Connecting The Disconnected
The transformation of ‘smart street lighting’ into ‘smart pole’ is the result of the evolution of connectivity. From 3G to 4G and to 5G data networks, the advancement has made it possible to capture myriad information in real-time. The capability to analyze traffic congestion, crime, monitoring accidents, environmental monitoring is providing new solutions to long-standing challenges. Hence, there is hope that smart poles may further emerge with innovative solutions not thought so far.
For instance, governments in different countries are working on implementing Smart Cities plan in disconnected regions. Introducing the smart poles in disconnected areas can allow users to connect with the already-connected regions of the country. This can help them have access to real-time updates and emergency messages. In addition, smart poles in underserved areas are also anticipated to unfold growth opportunities in various industries.
However, there are certain challenges to this. The underserved regions are always victims to slow development. This hugely discourages market players to make investments.
Smart poles run using green energy which requires a high initial investment in Smart Cities. And they need constant maintenance in harsh weather conditions. Furthermore, harsh weather conditions attributed to moisture, snow and dust can disrupt the functioning of the smart poles. Therefore, as per experts, these factors may affect the rise of the smart pole market. But we are stressing on connecting the disconnected regions. Smart poles stand as great opportunities for them. If humans can work hard to reach Mars and build cities underwater, there must be a way to first address challenges that exist on our land.