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IoT Sparks a Lighting Revolution

In 1879, Newcastle-upon-Tyne was the first city to be illuminated by incandescent light. Today, there are approximately 304 million electric street lamps in operation around the world, and that number is expected to rise to 352 million by 2025, according to The Climate Group, an international non-profit organization that promotes the expansion of clean technology markets.

Understandably, there has been a progression of urban lighting control technologies over the last 140 years, with more big changes on the way.

IoT Sparks a Lighting Revolution 01

Moving toward Central Control

Initially, each street lamp was installed with a knife switch that had to be manually turned on or off. Later, in a method used until the 1950s, several street lamps were ganged together to share a single switch.

Today, many street lamps are controlled by decentralized timers installed in power distribution boxes that are preset to turn lamps on and off on a fixed schedule. Because the timing is not flexible, nor are individual units addressable, operators have little situational awareness or real-time feedback.

Due to the absence of comprehensive monitoring systems, unit failures are often only discovered during physical inspections or by citizen reports.

‘Internet of Lights’

What happens when street lamps are connected to Internet of Things (IoT) networks? Huawei’s IoT Lighting solution provides the answer. Through linking hundreds of millions (and soon billions) of terminals, the IoT digital communication network is poised to change the way we live. One example among many is the revolution in routine driving habits with the advent of cars connected to urban infrastructure that includes centrally controlled street lighting systems: the ‘Internet of Vehicles’ meets the ‘Internet of Lights.’

The Huawei IoT Lighting solution equips each street lamp with a controller that includes a built-in wireless communication module that interacts with IoT gateways.

IoT Sparks a Lighting Revolution 02

Huawei’s Lighting IoT Solution

The controllers collect street lamp operating parameters and send the data to the cloud in real time. A visualized, GIS-based management system keeps city officials informed of the operating status of each lamp on every street, enabling precise on-off and brightness control of individual lamps. This type of on-demand lighting control is able to reduce energy consumption by up to 80 percent.

Huawei’s IoT Lighting solution eliminates the barriers that have hindered the development of connected public lighting systems.

  • Smart Energy Conservation: Precise Calculation + Intelligent Awareness

Smart lighting policies are programmed to enhance the performance of street lamps:

  • Automatic calculation of illumination durations based on local longitude, latitude, season, month, and day
  • Dynamic brightness adjustments by linking built-in brightness sensors with third-party vehicle and pedestrian sensors
  • Efficient Management: Visualized Monitoring + Preventive Maintenance

A GIS-based management system is employed for displaying comprehensive information about street lamps:

  • Unit inventory for each street segment, including history and current status of each fixture
  • System faults generating alarms and notifying maintenance personnel by mobile text message with location and incident summary
  • Using collected operating data, the system predicts potential faults and schedules preventive maintenance using collected operating data
  • Multi-level Smart Control: Cloud + Local

Smart controls are segmented first at the cloud level, and second, for control at the local level:

  • Multi-level smart controls greatly improve lighting control reliability
  • Contemporary street lighting systems are controlled centrally, which leaves individual neighborhoods beyond operator control during network outages
  • Lamp controllers continue to operate offline and independently downstream of the agile gateways during cloud level failures

IoT Sparks a Lighting Revolution 03

Smart Lighting

From the underlying chipsets to the upper-layer applications, Huawei’s Lighting IoT solution uses an open architecture that provides open interfaces across all layers. The silicon controller is optimized to support LiteOS, which is Huawei’s open-source, self-configuring embedded operating system for IoT sensors and terminals. LiteOS is built to make standards-based connections quickly and efficiently with third-party devices.

  • Agile gateways support a virtualized architecture that opens the way for partner companies to develop and install custom applications.
  • Agile controllers provide a standard northbound interface to third-party application systems to better integrate all available service components.

In addition to illuminating the night, lighting towers are being used to attach an increasing variety of Smart City interfaces. Mounted high, low, and everywhere in between, the array of equipment includes video cameras, environmental monitors, traffic sensors, radio transceivers, charging piles for electric vehicles, and trash bin sensors — all of which can be configured to collect basic data for discrete services and aggregated to support more comprehensive perspectives about our city streets and highways.

The ‘Internet of Lights’ is just one of an endless number of IoT examples whose eventual success requires the participation of vendors and partners across all industry and government sectors to convert opportunity to real-life effects for people in all walks of life.

By Wang Denghui

Senior Manager, Network Marketing, Enterprise Business Group, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

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