A significant portion of the city’s electricity bill is generated simply by powering the street lights (in South Bend upwards of $80,000 a month). Another little known fact is that as the lights age, they begin to dim. These lights burn 12 hours a day, every day and they are essential for the functionality and safety of our streets and neighborhoods at night.
It would be hard to improve upon something that straightforward, but with a cost that large, it’s worth a look. Motion sensor street lights have the potential to not only save money, but because they are dimmed at 70% for most of the time, they extend the life span of the bulb significantly. According to one manufacturer, Tvilight, the lights will pay for themselves in about 5 years. Typically, street lights need replacing every 4-6years, and LEDs every 10-12years, but by lessening their demand total life expectancy could easily be doubled.
Energy (and by extension carbon footprint) and cost savings aren’t the only benefits to using this type of technology for our street lights. Using wireless technology, Fire Trucks would be able to turn street lights red to alert drivers. 911 calls could trigger flashing lights to more quickly alert police to the location. They could be part of a disaster warning system or something fun like citywide celebrations of New Year’s.
Once integrated into a wireless network, the lights could be controlled and monitored remotely. This would vastly improve their maintenance and response time if they were damaged or burned out.
Here’s a video that more fully explains the concept: What Is Intelligent Lighting?