95. Rethink the Light Pole


Standard light poles come in all shapes and sizes. Often, the style of the light poles is used to convey location (historic districts use more historic looking fixtures).  Recently, grid free lighting has become increasingly discussed in municipalities because of the high cost to operate.  Occasionally, you might come across a wind or solar powered fixture.  But light poles, because of their visibility and continuous source of electricity have the potential to serve many roles in cities. For instance, they could change color to communicate emergencies or when Fire/Safety vehicles approach.  They could house emergency call buttons. They could aid in distributing wireless signals or have integrated speakers for music or messaging.  They could have environmental sensors for weather monitoring or water detection.  They could have digital street signs or banners attached to communicate locations or branding or events.  They could be app controlled or dimmable to save energy.  They could serve as charging stations or house first aid kits.

Integrating ubiquitous elements like street furniture can serve a greater role in operations, in the same way smart thermostats and fire detectors have reengaged homeowners with safety and energy efficiency.  If light poles could do all that, imagine what trash containers or benches or bike racks could do.

A couple of years ago, NYC thought to cover the City in superfast wifi while also rethinking the antiquated phone booths.  The results were incredible.  Check it out here.

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