Wifi, security, traffic and weather data are added boon of new streetlights

Central Israeli town of Bat Yam to become first to illuminate itself with Israeli firm’s Apollo smart LED system

A Ga'ash Lighting Apollo streetlight (Courtesy)
A Ga'ash Lighting Apollo streetlight (Courtesy)

The streetlight is due for an overhaul, urban officials around the world believe, as they aim to swap existing energy-inefficient high-intensity discharge (HID) streetlights for more efficient and smart city-friendly Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology streetlights.

An ambitious program called the Global Lighting Challenge is set to install no fewer than 10 billion LED streetlights around the world by the end of the next decade.

Ga’ash Lighting, an Israeli company that specializes in LED streetlight technology, is taking that further – installing smart LED streetlights that include wifi repeaters, security cameras, sensors to measure temperature and air quality, and systems to measure traffic congestion.

The Apollo system by Ga’ash will not only help cities save money by using energy more efficiently, says the company; it will allow them greater control over all expenditures, collecting and transmitting back big data that can be used to determine where to deploy police, where to pick up the garbage, how to prevent traffic jams, and more.

LED is the next wave of lighting in cities, according to the Clean Energy Ministerial, an international global forum that includes the US, China, the UK, most EU countries, India, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and the other countries that are behind the Global Lighting Challenge.

According to the group, lighting is responsible for as much as 20% of electricity consumption and is the cause of over 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In many places, lighting systems still use gas and coal, adversely affecting air quality and, as a result, the health of hundreds of millions of people who are exposed to increased air pollution.

In addition, as many as a billion people lack any outdoor lighting at all.

The goal of the Challenge is to deploy 50% more lighting globally while consuming 50% less energy compared to today, either by installing new lights or replacing existing HID lights with LED systems. To accomplish this, the Challenge seeks to install 10 billion LED streetlights by 2030.

That effort will take money and policy initiative. HID lights, the yellow sulfuric streetlights in use in most cities, were in most cases installed decades ago, before the invention of LED. Despite the fact that LEDs are more expensive to install, many cities in Europe and the US are replacing existing HID systems with LEDs, which are more shock and vibration resistant, last longer, operate at a wider range of temperatures, and can be controlled from a central server to be brighter or dimmer – thus saving energy by allowing authorities to turn them on, off, brighter, or dimmer as needed.

Ga’ash’s Apollo smart streetlights give city managers complete control over their town’s lighting system. Each streetlight gets its own IP address, allowing a technician to set lighting at the proper intensity, as needed. For example, the intensity could be set at 20% as the sun goes down, and put onto full capacity later in the evening when it’s dark; and at 3 a.m. in areas where there is no traffic, intensity could be dropped to 50%, providing enough light for safety patrols and late-night commuters while substantially cutting a town’s electricity bill.

With an Internet address, streetlights can be used for much more than lighting: sensors, cameras, and other data-gathering equipment can be installed to give law enforcement, traffic managers, zoning boards, and waste management personnel a complete, 24/7 view of what is happening on city streets. This might provide police with early opportunities to intervene to prevent riots or robberies, give traffic managers clues on where commuter tie-ups are likely to develop during rush hour, or enable waste management authorities to dispatch trash collection trucks to the streets that need them most.

Beyond that, the system can be used to implement a city-wide wifi hotspot system for residents either for free or for a fee, providing cities with another income source.There is no doubt, s

Established in 1964, Ga’ash, located on the central Israel kibbutz of the same name, has been working on LED tech for ten years and smart technology for the last four. Apollo has been deployed in numerous European cities in pilot projects, and last week the company announced that the Israeli city of Bat Yam would be the first anywhere to replace its existing streetlights with LEDs.

The project will include replacing 7,000 streetlights, including those located on main and side streets, parks, public areas, and parking lots. According to the city, the LED system is expected to save Bat Yam some 60% over current street lighting electricity bills.

According to Bat Yam Mayor Yossi Bachar, “we are one of Israel’s most forward-thinking cities when it comes to green initiatives. The replacement of our streetlights with LED systems will not only help the environment, but it will have a very positive effect on the economic situation of the city and its residents.”

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