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Leeds to spend on smart street lights


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Leeds City Council is to invest £30 million on smart street lights following an agreement on the plan by its executive board.

Councillors approved a recommendation to spend £25.4 million on converting 86,000 lights across the city to new LED lamps over the next four years, and a further £5 million on technology to increase controls on the lamps as part of a smart city network approach.

This follows an assessment that the change would generate £3.4 million a year in savings at current energy prices when the programme is complete. Leeds currently spends around £4.8 million a year on electricity to run its street lights.

The council has also run a public consultation on its street lighting, in which more than 80% of 2,000 responses were in favour of the upgrade and just over half in favour of increasing the levels of nighttime switch-offs, although there are no current plans for this.

The council will now work with street lighting partner TVL on the programme.

Clear case

Councillor Richard Lewis, executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “Having listened to what people told us and weighing up the costs and benefits, there is now a clear case for upgrading all streetlights in the city to more energy-efficient LEDs.

“With energy costs expected to rise, this is one area where we can make huge savings in cost and energy use, and it will pay for itself in ten years. There’s also potential for future savings because we’ll be able to do things like dimming street lights from a distance away.

“It also gives us an opportunity to utilise the latest technology as part of our commitment to innovation and being a smart city, so the lighting system can be controlled and maintained at a distance in response to events, again improving efficiency and saving money.

“On top of this, I don’t think we’ve yet realised the full potential of smart technology in this and it offers other potential benefits in terms of air quality and road temperature monitoring, so now is the right time to invest in this technology.”

The proposal submitted to the executive board points out that the street lights could provide connectivity for CCTV and sensors such as those for monitoring air quality. This provides potential for the city to emerge as a test bed for smart places technology in line with its Smart Leeds programme.

The document highlights the potential for applications such as road temperature assessments to support more effective gritting; environmental monitoring; and gully sensors for flood alleviation.

Image by CL, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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