Let there be smart light !

Published on 23 August 2023

Lighting is an essential component in the development of cities and regions. This infrastructure contributes to inhabitants’ quality of life and can also be used to highlight cultural heritage. The renovation of lighting infrastructure provides a significant source of energy savings, thanks in particular to the switch to LEDs and the deployment of digital solutions. In the current context of rising energy costs, this is an important lever for facilitating their energy transition.

Eclairage public

Against a backdrop of sharp rises in the cost of energy, the introduction of less expensive solutions is an important lever for towns and cities to successfully complete their environmental transition.

Since the dawn of the industrial era, lighting has been an important part of city life – and of civic pride. For decades, major European cities vied to have the most illuminated streets: London pioneered gas lighting in the early 1800s, while Paris became “The City of Lights” as it lit up its boulevards in the 1880s. From coal-gas lamps via arc candles and incandescent bulbs through to today’s standard gas discharge lamps, public lighting has always evolved in tandem with technology.

There has been considerable innovation in lighting over the last decade,” says Simon Coutel, Operations Director at SPIE CityNetworks.“With technologies such as LED lamps and smart management systems promising tangible benefits, many regions and cities are looking to modernise their public lighting, make it more energy and environmentally efficient and reduce expenses associated with this vital infrastructure.” Simon Coutel, Operations Director at SPIE CityNetworks.

Smart lighting’ is the term used to refer to new systems which help to control and reduce energy consumption, increase safety and aspect in public spaces, and reduce light pollution. There are four elements in smart lighting systems, starting with design: by carefully examining how space is or should be used, unnecessary lighting can be designed out and appropriate illumination designed in.Secondly, replacement of existing lights with LED lamps leads to substantial reductions in electricity consumption and a vastly increased service life for each luminaire. This also has an effect on the third aspect of smart lighting, upkeep and repairs, as predictive maintenance technologies reduce the resources required.The fourth element is intelligent management to decrease consumption and light pollution. Sensors can be used so that individual luminaires only come on as ambient light declines, for instance, or if residents and road users approach. Smart systems can also be employed to coordinate larger installations tailored to specific requirements such as traffic, sports, or culture and heritage.

At SPIE, public lighting is a major segment of our business when it comes to the Smart City. From design to day-to-day maintenance, we provide our customers - local authorities - with concrete solutions to save energy, reduce costs and improve quality of life.”
Simon Coutel
Simon Coutel, Operations Director at SPIE CityNetworks.

SPIE lights up Europe's cities

Today, cities throughout Europe are competing to become “cities of light” and SPIE has the skills and solutions to help them achieve this goal. Discover 5 projects completed by SPIE teams.

  • Poland - lighting up the arena gdańsk

    At first, the city of Gdańsk was facing what looked like an impossible challenge: “For television broadcasts, the stadium needed to fulfil UEFA lighting guidelines, yet at the same time, it needed to lower wattage and reach CO2 reduction targets.” To achieve more illumination for less energy, “SPIE replaced 296 pitch LED floodlights, 84 spectator stands’ LED floodlights, 168 RGBW floodlights with intelligent lighting effects and 84 emergency LED lights,” explains Wojciech Szemiel, “as well as installing the lighting control system that enables light shows and ease of operation and maintenance. This system allows for creation of unique light shows and syncing lighting with music, which is enhancing the experience for the fans in the stadium and at home.

    Last but not least flicker-free and super slow-motion replay is now possible in Arena Gdańsk”. The result? UEFA Elite Level A criteria fulfilled, consumption slashed – more light for less energy.

    France - High-performing lighting at vincennes race track

    Paris’ premier horse-racing location, the Hippodrome de Vincennes, was looking to expand the number of races it could offer by lighting up its main course. This meant installing 384 lampposts and digging 1,800m of trenches for over 20km of cabling – all without adverse effects for wildlife in the nearby woods. “We had to measure the amount of light which would reach trees as part of the environmental impact assessment,” says Wadiê El Masmodi, “and then deliver the project in just four months.” A feat accomplished by SPIE CityNetworks that reduced consumption in existing lighting by 67%, all without using concrete.

    Germany - Smart street lighting for dortmund city council

    “In 2016, Dortmund City Council ran a Europe-wide tender for a contract to renew streetlights across the city,” recalls Bodo Cirkel. “We joined forces with municipal utilities company DEW21 to make a bid and were successful. Since 2017, we’ve been installing new street lights and integrating around 30,000 existing lights into a new smart management system.” This allows lights to be controlled individually, for instance to regulate the level of light, increasing energy efficiency and providing considerable savings. “And by switching to LED technology, we can save around 30% of energy consumption,” adds Cirkel. Thanks to an electronic management system, smart reporting of defective lamps straight to tablets carried by maintenance engineers allows repairs to be carried out efficiently.
    “In addition to this, over the last three years, we’ve installed 320 publicly accessible lamppost charge points on the streets of Dortmund,” explains Cirkel, “allowing road users to charge their electric vehicles while parking under a streetlight.” These lamppost chargers were installed in existing lampposts.

    France - Refitting municipal lighting in ploemeur

    This small town near the stunning Brittany coastline had ambitious goals, aiming to renew its entire public lighting system in 18 months without increasing costs. To achieve this, SPIE CityNetworks set up an adapted financing solution: a lease with purchase option and external financing over the contract’s 12 years. “This meant installing new material which would save enough energy to cover the cost of renovations,” explains Hugo Chiquet. “Keeping costs constant for the city implies a long-term contract to reach a return on investment. Thanks to this arrangement, we standardised the municipal lighting all while significantly reducing outages. As a result, 17 months after the contract was awarded, the municipality achieved 67% energy savings by September 2022 which was in line with the planned objectives.”

    The netherlands - Smart space in st. niklaas

    “It’s not difficult to control one, ten, or even a hundred smart lights,” says Herman Spekman, “but we had to build an application platform for thousands!” That was the challenge after SPIE was asked to join SMART SPACE, an EU-funded Interreg project across four towns to improve public spaces and decrease antisocial behaviour using technology. “Depending on whether a light needs to go from 30% to 80% brightness as a cyclist approaches or straight to 100% when triggered by noise, the smart system algorithms are completely different. So this showcase project was a great way for us to develop solutions. The connectivity is provided by a puck1 and is based on ZHAGA, the new standard for public lighting.”

    * A puck combines a high-resolution wide-angle camera, a thermal camera and built-in microphones. Using its machine learning algorithm, it extracts information from the data collected.