Lighting integration will make smart cities a success

Simon Newcombe, business development manager,
Schréder UK

Smart cities are not a trend, they are necessary. Local authorities around the world are investing in connected technology to build the cities of the future, but while recent innovations are fuelling growth in this area, it is not a luxury. The global population is currently growing by 1.18% each year, increasing by approximately 83 million people annually. Urban expansion is essential: 66% of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050. By 2030, 41 of the world’s ‘megacities’ will have more than ten million inhabitants, says Simon Newcombe, business development manager, Schréder UK.

Connected infrastructure enables local authorities to have more control over public services, and while connected lighting is seen by many as the foundation for this movement, in reality it is driving innovation, enabling increased control, and reduced costs and global energy consumption.

The internet is saving, not killing the town centre

It is no secret that, from the perspective of retailers, the internet wounded the town centre, but by providing ubiquitous connectivity through public infrastructure, the internet can also revitalise trade for local businesses.

62% of people spend more time in public areas when they can use their laptops and tablets via Wi-Fi, and surrounding shops and facilities report an additional 50% more spending when this occurs.

Data is undoubtedly the next global revolution, and connected lighting is providing an integrated hub for the collection, storage and distribution of information. The applications touch on all aspects of public life, from health and safety to crime prevention and social interaction.

Provision of connected public services that increase dwell time and social interaction allow planners and architects to direct the movement of people through public spaces, leading potential customers towards desired areas of connectivity. These can be extensions of existing commercial networks, acting as new marketing channels for local businesses, providing new revenue streams through advertising and commercial partnerships.

New connectivity between local businesses and customers provides valuable opportunities for data collection and analytics. In addition to encouraging customers to dwell in commercial areas and interact with retailers and facilities, businesses can learn more about their customers than before, enabling them to provide better, more targeted and more rewarding services.

Building the cities of the future

Manufacturers providing connected, interactive and multifunctional lighting products are empowering designers and driving innovation in numerous ways. Integration declutters and modernises existing architecture and shared public space, and lighting columns are the natural choice to house new technology as they are already evenly distributed throughout urban areas.

By providing technology hubs in products like modular lighting columns, manufacturers can futureproof cities, providing a tool to integrate and connect new technology without the need for substantial additional investment or redesign.

Beacon technology, motion sensors, facial recognition technology and advanced rapid charging points for electric vehicles are just some of the cutting edge equipment currently making its way into integrated lighting products, which are already making cities safer, healthier and more profitable. As connectivity becomes ubiquitous and smart cities come into their own, the possibilities for future integration are phenomenal.

The author of this blog is Simon Newcombe, business development manager, Schréder UK.

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