Paris: No LED streetlights, but it still goes for intelligent controls

Let's say you operate the streetlights in Paris – the alluring 'City of Light' which has generally not implemented modern LED streetlights but instead has stuck with less energy-efficient models, probably for fear of upsetting the signature nighttime atmosphere of the place.

Still, you don't want to miss out on this new 'internet of things' you've heard all about, which opens lighting to all sorts of remote and intelligent control possibilities, and which hooks up lights to information technology networks.

Who you gonna call? You could try Silicon Valley company Silver Spring Network. That's what Parisian consortium EVESA did. (The acronym stands for member companies ETDE, Vinci Energies, Satelec and Aximum who together run streetlights and traffic lights in the French capital).

It has tapped Silver Spring, of Redwood City, California, to expand a pilot programme that connects traffic lights and a mix of existing streetlight technologies – including high-pressure sodium – into a wireless control network. EVESA has already deployed the network on a small scale and will now roll it out across the city.

While the system will not offer as much sophisticated control as it could with LED lighting (which Silver Spring also works with) it will still help the city save considerably on operating costs, Silver Spring's vice president of smart cities Brandon Davito told Lux.

'While they do not benefit from the more advanced adaptive lighting and dimming schemes that LEDs offer, implementing a controls network allows a services provider or utility with the ability to monitor light performance and outages, provide proactive maintenance, and reduce energy by more precisely managing the lighting schedule,' Davito said. 'And even without LEDs, customers can see up to 45% reduction in energy savings and 25 per cent decrease in operational savings by networking their lights.'

Silver Spring uses a wireless 'mesh' technology known as IEEE 802.15.4g, different from Wi-Fi. The company did not reveal the cost of the project, and declined to say when it will begin and end.

Altough Paris has generally not yet gone for LED streetlighting, it is scheduled to replace 85 per cent of its streetlights with LEDs by 2020, Davito said.

'Modernising the public lighting infrastructure for “The City of Lights” while preserving its world-renowned aesthetic is a crucial undertaking,' Silver Spring chairman and CEO Scott Lang said in a press release, hinting that Paris does not want to upset its trademark look and ambience by immediately yanking out traditional lighting.

Paris earned its nickname 'City of Light' for its contributition to the 17th and 18th century Age of Enlightenment (think Voltaire and Descartes) and also for its leaderhip in illuminating streets with gas lights in the 19th century.

While it is not taking a lead role in LED streetlighting, it should eventually get there. When it does, it will already have enlightened itself on the intelligent controls. 

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Photo is from Kevin George via Shutterstock