ILP London CPD Webinar: Beyond Lighting Controls – Sensors and the Smart City

Jan 27, 2021 | London LDC Webinar, Webinars

Today, lighting control systems are no longer simply a platform for management of public lighting assets. They are a gateway to enable sensors and data analytics and additional value to flow from these assets. As an example, sensor-enabled luminaires can monitor and report on traffic data as well as air quality information, to help better inform our traffic services, city planners, and engaged citizens. Further to this, new technologies and approaches to communications makes realizing and analysing sensor data easier and less complex than ever.

This webinar will discuss these topics and more, to help inform about opportunities to enable smart sensors in your city.

Speaker: Adam Chaffey, P.Phys, Technical Director, Smart City Lighting Products at Liveable Cities.

ILP London Hosts: Perry Hazell, Chair and Peter Burbidge.



Are you aware of the City of London smart lighting controls including their ability to raise lighting levels during ‘major incidents’?

Yes. I am aware of such ability. That is a common CMS function, and not directly related to sensing functionality which was the main subject of the seminar.
Do you see the possibility of income generation from these smart systems?
Yes. Many clients are in proof-of-concept phase and developing business cases for income generation, as well as generation of non-revenue values (safer streets, cleaner air, road use policy, etc.) which are key quality metrics for many citizens in cities around the world.

What issues do you encounter with shared access to lighting assets?
This varies by location. Lighting assets are controlled by councils or energy service providers. The asset owner can often dictate access policy, and thereby set stage for shared access. As many sensor types are of interest to councils, or those of service or maintain the infrastructure, there are usually few access barriers encountered.

How have IT security issues been accommodated with policies of public bodies such a local government?
Again, this varies by location. Each asset owner, or sensor operator, must take on systems in a manner consistent with their existing IT security requirements and policies. Usually, the IT or digital teams have a systems-level IT review projects, and have key security metrics and attributes that must be met in order to participate in these types of engagements.

Do you find ‘open’ protocols are truly open or can there be inter-system issues?
On occasion, there may be inter-system issues when trying to utilize multiple ‘open’ protocol platforms. However, TALQ compliance is a globally-recognized threshold for those integrating multiple systems, or multiple vendor applications together.

Are these sensors and operating systems open source, are there licencing arrangements that mean it is a single supplier system?
These types of systems are not currently open-source. There are many reasons for this, and chief amongst them is support; councils and lighting service providers want support from out-of-house to address any issues that arise with deployment or on-going usage. Open-source packages may not have same level of comfort or service delivery to the user.
Typically, CMS and end-point devices are tied together at the vendor level. However, TALQ is the interoperability mechanism between vendors and their respective systems to enable end-users to have a multi-supplier system.  

Given that lanterns are getting smaller, isn’t the appearance of the very large sensor going to be visually challenging? 
Urban clutter is indeed a challenge in some areas. However, sensors have multiple form factors, including some that can integrate completely within a luminaire and therefore has no external connection points are visible.

What do you consider are the issues to be addressed with data storage and how do you think is best practice?
As we work in multiple jurisdictions, the requirements for data storage and data sovereignty vary greatly. In most cases local or national governments have legislation that is applicable. Best practices may include building on on-premise solution that exists behind the customer’s local firewall and security, but for others, cloud-hosted solutions, as long as data storage location requirements are met, may offer more flexibility and feasibility.

How are GDPR issues dealt with when collecting data?
Data is owned by the sensor network operator, and thereby the systems would need to comply with the local operator’s GDPR policies. As mentioned during the presentation, privacy concerns are paramount to some clients, so systems that record data, such as vehicular or pedestrian passage, without identifying information are one way to overcome privacy issues with sensors in the public landscape.

Are the mobile phone companies working together to provide the network, where one company’s signal and availability may not be strong or accessible in an area?
Field devices have the capability to utilize a single provider’s network, or to roam onto different networks to find the strongest signal for the particular geographic area.
Are these systems consistent with supporting autonomous vehicle infrastructure?
There are different approaches to integrating autonomous vehicles into our existing road networks. Some of which would lend very well to these types of devices, and others which would not. That would be a topic for an entirely separate seminar!

Is it reasonable to expect a CMS software platform to be able to provide the analytics, machine learning and visualisation that will be required to provide actionable and automated insights of the sensor data. Also, most of this senor data is of little or no interest to a street lighting engineer, how is this then transported too or visualised for the traffic, environment, or planning engineer or even to an outside organisation or member of public.

I believe it is reasonable. Many lighting departments are awakening to the realization that they are owning and operating assets that are key to deployment of smart city, and IoT, technology. Many are seeing this as an ability for them to become an additional or value-added service provider within a council, city or a utility. Integration with downstream services can take on many forms as discussed at a high level during the seminar.  

How does inter-department work regarding funding? Does this tend to be a single central council budget or do individual departments pay their share?

There are multiple models that exist. For models where the lighting department becomes the service provider, obtaining other department stakeholder input could be key to a successful pilot project or roll-out.

Interesting insights, one issue I foresee as I find now, if I employ a contractor to buy the equipment I am finding any data is either owned by the manufacturer or person who buys the equipment not the end user. This is a blocker to many things, IT teams, GDPR crazies and the like, it can be difficult.

While that has been the case with some vendors and contractors approach to servicing clients, it is not the only approach and there are other models in the market for handling data. I would suggest that the council or client establishes their expectations on data from the outset- the market will adapt.

How has the algorithm been developed to control adaptive lighting to give certainty when dealing with situations such as stationary traffic and how is decision making to increase or decrease lighting levels made?

The algorithm in our system gives suggested lighting class adjustments to the CMS operator, who could then make adjustments to their lighting system. The comfort level with adaptive lighting varies significantly across the globe, so we wish to give options to our clients who are interested to examine this behaviour further in a field study.
RE: adaptive lighting/IDA-How do you suggest to determine “*when* light is needed” in actual neighbourhoods?
There will be additional documentation forth-coming from the IES-IDA collaborative working group that will add some further definitions to support the pillars of responsible lighting.

Certainly the usage of adaptive lighting systems has been longer under consideration in the UK. The ILP Publication “PLG08 GUIDANCE ON THE APPLICATION OF ADAPTIVE LIGHTING WITHIN THE PUBLIC REALM” would be a good starting point, and no doubt a reference that the joint IES-IDA group will be considering.

Do these systems address parking availability and is this just on-street parking?
There are different approaches to parking- my firm works with others who focus on parking and mobility solutions to tackle those issues. Both situations are of interest to the market.

Having looked at A CMS system that uses SIM card technology, the main issue I see is the cost of running. Will the Mobile operators look at the cost of data to enable this to become a viable system?
This was discussed during the seminar. Yes. Mobile network operators are indeed coming to the table to enable these types of systems. The newer bands dedicated toward this technology, most notably LTE-M, are being deployed on a different pricing structure than traditional SIM card-based LTE deployments. That being said, traditional approaches to networks (power-line/mains-borne, RF star/mesh) are also available as viable network options for deployments today. It really depends on the scope and scale of deployment, as well as geography. Hybrid-type networks (RF-mesh, with LTE-M overlay in certain applications/areas for example) are also possible, and may be a novel solution for certain jurisdictions.

CMS systems are not fit and forget. How much resource do these systems need?
Resourcing requirements would vary by intended utilization by the end-client. There are some operators who invest and utilize their CMS on a daily basis. And, there are others that rely on it for maintenance notifications. Resource needs for sensor systems are similar, and vary widely based on the deployment size, goals, and client needs for the project.

The majority of our street lighting is on un-metered supplies, how can you see CMS / Smart technologies moving us to metered supplies through the application of these technologies?
Lighting operates in many locations as un-metered supply. Industry standards, such as the fourth-coming ANSI C136.50-202x will enable a smoother transition to metered infrastructure in many jurisdictions. Councils that participate in sensor deployments may be in a unique position to study metered lighting electrical consumption data from the sensor node, as a by-product of operating a sensor project. This may therefore be a unique great opportunity to study and give further consideration to moving to a metered lighting setup and CMS.

Can the CMS system also monitor energy usage for the lantern and the associated notes on the lantern which can report the energy consumed in day week month or year quarter?

Yes. Field devices and CMS have this capability.

Surely GDPR is a non-starter as you are collecting non-specific data (flow rates, speeds etc) and not number plates/images of drivers etc?

Agreed- sensor types that collect inputs but cannot uniquely identify those persons of vehicles in the space had an advantage over those that rely on or collect identifying information from a privacy standpoint in relation to GDPR.
In the real world or procurement, it is very difficult to get CMS providers to work with lantern providers. Until there is a disconnect, the roll out of the technology is going to be hampered in many markets.
There are case studies where this has worked well, but generally when the number of vendors working together is minimized. As interoperability standards and engaged clients proliferate, both luminaire and CMS vendors will need to come to the table together. That’s one of the benefits of the industry standards that are driven by the needs of the end-user, such as those in ANSI C136.

Could you please repeat the 5 Principles of Responsible Outdoor Lighting?
These are published as part of the press release from the IES in April 2020. See:

What EMF monitoring/control do you have in place to ensure that the CMS equipment doesn’t interfere with other Spectrum users?

Equipment is compliant with published spectrum requirements and norms. Mobile-network devices are further evaluated against EMF protocols for mobile devices (intentional and unintentional radiator evaluation).
Are there any pitfalls / issues / comments about do’s and don’ts for data transfer over extended distances in rural areas ?
There are many different types of network topologies available in the market. Rural areas could benefit from mobile-network based sensors as mobile networks often are available in even the most remote rural areas. RF or mains-borne network types may have challenges in remote areas, or be cumbersome or expensive to deploy to cover all field sites depending on the particular geography in question.

Can the nodes be used to increase lighting levels and speak to other notes if the area has very low usage and dimmed to low level?

Yes. Field devices have this capability.

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