Streetlights are likely to play a major role in smart city infrastructures, but it needs improvements in interoperability to realise the full potential, according to a new report.
Juniper Research has focused on the issue in The Future of Lighting and Urban Mobility in Smart Cities, which says smart street lights can contribute to improvements in traffic, mobility-as-a-service, public safety and public health.
But it identifies significant challenges, especially in the lack of incentive for manufacturers to move to a fully standardised system that would support interoperability.
It says the market will require time to mature and consolidate for a level playing field to emerge, and this creates a risk of some software no being fit for purpose for some services in the future.
There is also a danger of security vulnerabilities having an impact on city infrastructure.
Barriers to savings
In addition, local authorities may not always be able to achieve the energy costs savings from smart street lights, particularly when they do not own the pole and lighting fixtures. And any high bandwidth applications could be held back by worries over the installation costs, especially when it relies on fibre networks.
The report says, however, that the embedded intelligence in edge computing devices will go some way to overcoming the challenge, and it will encourage the growth of 5G as a key part of smart city infrastructures.
The report forecasts that the global market for smart street lighting will grow steadily, with the number of deployments increasing by an average of 42% per year to reach 70 million units by 2023. This will help to provide $15 billion in energy savings for cities, with the East Asia and China leading the market.
Juniper Research also highlights the potential for smart transport, pointing out that it relies partly on effective ticketing systems. Currently these operate almost entirely in silos and there is a need for cities to develop open platforms into which service providers could integrate their systems.
The chances of this are more likely if a public authority rather than a private entity offers it to the different providers.
Image by Harald Hoyer CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons