LED street lights brighten the Tenderloin

To cut costs, the San Francisco government has installed smart LED street lights that can be remotely monitored

Prostitution and drugs frighten some people away from San Francisco's gritty Tenderloin district, but the area could soon enlighten the city with a money-saving idea.

The city government has installed "smart" LED (light-emitting diode) street lights in the Tenderloin that can be managed remotely. The street lights are part of a wider effort by the city to cut spending and reduce energy use.

The LED panels are connected to servers over existing power lines, from which the city manages the operation of the LEDs. Based on data retrieved from the panels, management consoles like Echelon's I.Lon SmartServer can remotely turn off or dim lights depending on time, weather and traffic.

"We have installed 50 [LED panels] in the Tenderloin district as a demonstration," said Tony Winnicker, a spokesman for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

"It's an area where reliable street lights are important for public safety. They last longer, and it's brighter at street level," he said.

San Francisco has about 30,000 street lights, and over time, LED lights will replace conventional fixtures, Winnicker said. LED offers double the life and consumes up to 50 percent less energy than the conventional sodium fixtures, Winnicker said.

The energy savings will help the city reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 to the levels of 1990, he said. Shutting down individual or a group of lamps on a situational basis - like time of day - also prolongs life of LEDs.

In the long term, that will cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce lamp acquisition costs.

The city is also equipping panels with traffic and weather sensors to determine LED behavior. For example, lamps could stay on during a rainstorm based on data gathered by weather sensors.

The sensors also provide fringe benefits like the ability to flash lights for first responders to quickly locate emergency scenes.

Additional savings come through remote management of the street lights. Echelon's software maps operational and non-operational lights, allowing personnel to spend time repairing lamps instead of inspecting them.

The management console is also available as a Web service, so street lights could be managed over the Internet using mobile devices like the iPhone, said Steve Nguyen, director of corporate marketing at Echelon.

Many cities - especially in Europe - are taking a phased approach in implementing smart street lamps, Nguyen said. Cities usually don't want to put all their eggs in a single basket, so they break up implementations over multiple vendors.

Echelon and its partner companies are among a handful of companies being considered for implementation of LED panels in San Francisco. The company is already in the process of implementing about 125 LED panels in nearby San Jose, which it hopes to complete by June 30, Nguyen said.

The need to cut costs may seem crucial during the recession, but San Francisco is taking a phased approach in LED deployment.

Winnicker said the technology needs to be fully evaluated before implementation. He doesn't want to encounter unpleasant surprises like hackers breaking into the system to take control of street lights.

A heavy up-front cost is also involved in deploying the new technology, so it may be appropriate for the city to take a gradual approach.

"It's smart from a financial perspective as the cost of street lights are coming down rapidly," Winnicker said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags energy efficiencylightLED

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?