More than half of the world's population now lives in urban areas, and the UN predicts that 68% of us will live in cities by 2050. At the same time, cities are responsible for over 70% of global CO2 emissions. Worldwide, urban leaders are turning to innovative solutions to play their part in fighting climate change as the future will be determined by actions taken today. Lighting choices can play a huge part in this.
Public lighting can have a major impact on people’s well-being, economic activity after dark, and the city’s image. Many major urban centres have already saved energy through the transition to LED lighting. However, to be truly smart, cities require a Central Management Systems (CMS), such as Schréder EXEDRA.
Switching to a smart system is a big commitment, but we believe that any city considering a lighting replacement should choose an option that will make it easier to upgrade when the time comes: project owners should choose a connected-ready solution.
What is Connected-Ready?
Connected-ready is a great choice for local authorities who want to upgrade their lighting, either by switching to LED or improving existing LED solutions, but don’t want to install a CMS right now. Put simply, it means street lights can easily become part of a connected system if and when the asset owner wants to activate one - without changing the infrastructure.
In hardware terms, there are two options. One option is to buy a connected-ready luminaire that comes with a socket (NEMA or Zhaga), where a luminaire controller - known as a node - can be plugged onto later.
The other option is to buy a luminaire already fitted with a node, where the node is not yet connected to a CMS. The second option ensures that future lighting infrastructure can be connected instantly, without any manual interventions on-site, saving time and money.
In addition, a luminaire that has been bought connected-ready, can easily have its unique asset data retrieved by a remote management system such as Schréder EXEDRA. This enables easy, cost-effective asset management through the connected functions.
Learning More, Investing Later
Smart lighting solutions can integrate smart technologies to improve citizens’ lives, and connect with other devices to exchange data. However, investing is a major step and there are many reasons why planners may want to upgrade luminaires, without committing to a whole CMS. Users might want to see which system would best suit their needs, run pilot projects or consult with peers.
They may want to carry out research into wildlife populations: The Living Planet Report 2022 shows that global wildlife populations have plummeted by 69% on average since 1970. Connected lighting can easily be adjusted in terms of colour warmth and brightness to avoid disrupting animal populations, as we’ve shown in projects in Heidelberg and Galway.
It could be a simple budgetary matter, where there are funds for a lighting upgrade, but not a CMS - yet. Connected-ready means the lighting installation is futureproof and can be adapted to tomorrow’s needs without costly additional work.
Options Are Endless…
Luminaires can come fitted with a node that is not activated yet. To understand more about the difference between NEMA and Zhaga architecture, please read our article here. They can also be supplied with a socket to fit a node at a later date. This is a more complicated process than simply activating the existing nodes, requiring manual intervention. However, it is still more sustainable than replacing or upgrading non-connected luminaires.
At Schréder, the customer is at the heart of everything we do. There are also alternative solutions for fitting nodes to lighting brackets or poles but not the luminaire. Sometimes, these can be useful for projects with a particular aesthetic/heritage constraint. This option represents a heavy manual intervention, takes longer and inevitably looks less tidy than a socket.
… And Data Is Instant
Connected-ready means that as soon as the node is switched on, the data is automatically imported into a CMS such as Schréder EXEDRA which proceeds to an auto-inventory and auto-commissioning. The lighting infrastructure can then be monitored, maintained and controlled in an optimal way.
The CMS lighting system enables owners to endlessly customise the system: whether their town deals with football matches, traffic surges due to motorway diversions, or wildlife breeding seasons, they can get the right lighting in place when they need it. In addition, the CMS gives a precise view of the assets' capabilities and helps to plan maintenance and manage their lifecycle. Energy consumption is also monitored to help make data-driven decisions on sustainable planning and energy savings for the city.
Connected-Ready, A Circular Choice
Changing the lighting without changing the lights is a huge advantage for cities that want to play their part in reaching climate change goals. Connected-ready infrastructure is actively engaged in a more circular economy.
First, no new luminaires are needed when the decision is made to connect the lighting system. Then, once connected, the asset management system ensures a very durable infrastructure. The lifespan of assets is longer, because defective parts can be fixed or upgraded on-site without replacing the luminaire. And in a decade or so, a simple replacement of the nodes will ensure the upgrade of the lighting installation without having to change all the lighting devices.
Today’s Decisions, Tomorrow’s Benefits
From the UN Sustainable Development Goals to national measures such as the UK’s decarbonisation plans and France’s laws on light pollution, local authorities have never been under more pressure to save energy, reduce their carbon footprint and ensure their assets are a part of the circular economy. Lighting can play a major part in achieving these goals.
City authorities, planners and lighting designers, face a huge array of choices when investing in new lighting. But whichever luminaires, systems and styles are chosen, there is one decision that should be easy: opting for a connected-ready solution.
This means that street lighting can become part of a smart system with minimal cost and zero (or minimal) manual intervention. Connected-ready lighting is a small decision to take today that provides a wealth of options for tomorrow.
About the writer
Highly experienced in electronic engineering, Laurent joined Schréder in 2012, bringing his deep technical understanding and knowledge of sensors. He led electronic research and product development as the lighting industry embraced LED lighting and control systems. Today, he works for our Smart City Centre of Excellence in Portugal, with a particular focus on the connected world of IoT and bridging the gap between technology and applications.
Connect with Laurent on LinkedIn.