Smart lampposts tackle Covid response and recovery

30 April 2021

A new generation of smart lampposts that can monitor public health and detect overcrowding could stop the spread of Covid-19 and regenerate cities, according to a new report. These 21st century lamp columns go beyond street lighting by incorporating sensors that can receive and transmit information about crowd density, and even the body temperature of individuals. They can also incorporate CCTV, air quality sensors, flooding monitors, digital signage, and 5G wifi hotspots.

Shining a Global Light – commissioned by city transformation experts UrbanDNA, Hydro, Itron, Lucy Zodion, Signify and the Smart City Infrastructure Fund – draws on case experiences from Barcelona, Copenhagen, LA, London, Munich and Singapore, to demonstrate how smart lampposts are being used to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

After a year of restrictions, coronavirus is set to remain a feature of European life, as country after country begins to deal with a third wave. As well as Barcelona, Westminster City Council in London has been exploring ways to use lighting to keep areas on Oxford Street clear to help with crowd safety management. The Council is already trialling the use of smart lighting controls to dim lights around the street to create a positive atmosphere in order to encourage people back into town.

Matteo Andreoletti, Head of Infrastructure Equity in Europe at Whitehelm , said: “Cities around the world are switching to LED street lighting because it makes financial sense as well as saving greenhouse gas emissions. A broad range of finance is available to implement these programs, but switching to LED lighting alone will not be enough to unlock the full societal benefit of a lamppost. A large number of smart lamppost pilots has highlighted the need for a more sophisticated approach to finance and business model to enable large-scale deployment.”

He added: “Connected streetlighting are strategic assets for any smart city roll-out and have already shifted the paradigm in service delivery and community management. Such sophisticated projects are often hard to implement at smaller scale due to a lack of clear revenues streams that support the investment. Standardisation of solutions and clustering of projects help bring projects to fruition better and sooner, ensuring smaller municipalities are not left behind.”

Looking beyond Covid, Barcelona, London, Munich and Copenhagen are all exploring the use of smart lampposts to deliver applications that can monitor environmental conditions, track pedestrian and cycling mix, respond to floods, charge electric vehicles, provide pubic Wifi, and more. Areal multi-purpose city asset.