What Does It Mean to Be Street Smart?

City Street image


What does it mean to be street smart? Is it knowledge of what’s going on in the world around you? Is it the ability to survive and thrive in unpredictable environments? Is it knowing which decisions and actions will lead to the most favorable outcomes? More likely, it’s a combination of these skills and more, but being street smart is not limited to individuals. Cities and organizations have the opportunity to get smarter here as well.


At Current, we think the first step toward being street smart is studying the streets themselves. Roadways are a treasure trove of data, and streetlights illuminate all the action. And because roadways are both necessary and ubiquitous, their upkeep and energy usage represent a massive investment for municipalities or utilities.


Therein lies the opportunity. Smart lighting and intelligent city solutions have the power to positively affect the efficiency and quality of roadways and cities. Because of their location, streetlights are also the ideal locations for sensors or nodes that collect and transmit data, which can further improve transportation, public safety and more.


For Roadways, It’s All About Efficiency

Installing smart lighting allows cities and utilities to exercise more control over streetlights and their associated costs. LED fixtures can decrease energy usage by a half compared to their less efficient counterparts, and additional energy savings can be found with controls such as dimming in low-traffic areas. Accurate control metering enables better tracking of that energy usage. Not only are you using less energy, but you’re also only paying for what you use, making a significant dent in utility spending.


The push for smarter roadways is furthered with more efficient asset management. The longer life span of LEDs means less maintenance, and near-real-time performance data communicated via solutions like LightGrid makes it easy to deploy maintenance teams and manpower only when it’s needed.


Most LED fixtures use radio frequency (RF) mesh technology that conforms to IPv6 over Low Power Wireless Personal Area Networks (6LoWPAN) specifications to transmit bits of data. Current also offers CAT-M networks. CAT-M connects nodes directly to a 4G network and has a relatively low bandwidth, keeping costs low.


For Cities, Intelligence Drives Enablement

Smart lighting can help roadways operate more efficiently, but streetlights that connect to an IoT platform can build the foundation for a smart city. Smart cities are more than smart technology, however, and the goals of a true intelligent city are different than those of roadways utilizing smart solutions.


For example, smart city solutions should enhance the lives of all citizens, empowering communities and businesses to tackle the biggest challenges and raise the quality of life. Improving the efficiency of public transportation, increasing public safety, enhancing urban development also expands access to jobs, food and other resources, increasing the odds that all residents can get what they need to thrive.


Intelligent cities also assist businesses. They can provide insights as to the best locations for expansion, supply data that generates new application development or make it easier for visitors to discover new areas of interest. The integral piece here is data: Information gleaned from city streets allows the city to make smarter decisions that positively impact the community.


Taking the First Steps

Whether it’s roadways trying to operate more efficiently or cities attempting to become better places to live and work, streetlight poles can be utilized as the ideal placement for sensors that convey meaningful data. Harnessing their potential is the first step toward becoming street smart.


The topic of being “street smart” is one that takes center stage in our recent webinar, "Making Cities Street Smart with Lighting and Digital Deployments". In it, Current discusses smart lighting, intelligent cities and how you can gain actionable data that will help you operate more efficiently.