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London leads smart lamppost project

12/09/18

Mark Say Managing Editor

The Greater London Authority (GLA) is leading a European project aimed at exploiting the digital technology possibilities in lampposts.

Lamppost in evening light

It involves a handful of metropolitan regions – Rotterdam-Den Haag, Bordeaux, Piedmont and a cluster from Spain – that have signed a declaration to align their research into how to use lampposts in developing smart places.

London’s chief digital officer Theo Blackwell told UKAuthority the initiative is aimed at identifying the technology components with the best potential and laying the ground for the development of a market around Europe, which is estimated at being worth around €500 million per year.

“We are leading the project to create a framework from the renewal of lampposts and create a market where benefits start to appear,” he said. “It provides an opportunity for the state to act as a broker.

“Once you include sensors on public assets you can have conversations about what’s happening to their data.”

Blackwell said that each borough in the city has around 10,000 lampposts that could provide a major asset in implementing various technologies for smart places solutions.

Mobilising assets

“We’ll get to smart cities through standards and mobilising public assets and common technologies,” he said.

Among the possible uses for lampposts identified by the EU group are to use them for network nodes, environmental sensors, digital street signage, water level and flood monitoring, e-vehicle and bike charging, and ‘push to talk’ systems for contacting blue light services.

They could also be used for image sensing to monitor parking, count pedestrians and support public security.

Blackwell added that the programme will run over three to four years and that London’s role will continue after the UK leaves the EU in March of next year.

“We will also maintain the benefits in this because we believe London will remain a leading European city and can provide a lead for others. That’s what investors will be thinking as well,” he said.

The initiative is being run under the Sharing Cites programme for building common approaches to creating smart cities.

Mariya Gabriel, the EU commissioner for the digital economy, said of the programme: “The smart lamppost is in my view an ideal candidate to demonstrate the benefits of adoption at large scale in many cities of a key innovative device and components that can deliver, in one go, smart city solutions.”

Image by Colin Campbell, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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