It's not just big cities that are going LED – Italy's medieval villages are doing it too

Three medieval Italian towns and villages have turned to modern LED streetlighting to slash energy costs, buoyed by a web-based information system for remote management and monitoring.

Città Sant'Angelo, an east coast town of about 14,500 people, and the northeastern villages of Cison di Valmarino and Varmo, have all tapped new LED streetlights from Philips to replace a mix of conventional outdoor lighting technologies.

They've also installed Philips CityTouch networked management system that allows them to intelligently monitor individual lamp performance and remotely turn lights on and off and dim or brighten them. The web-based system is similar to one implemented recently by Los Angeles.

The three locations have deployed about 7,000 LED lights, between them, with Sant'Angelo accounting for about half of that and Valmarino for 2,600. The energy saving lamps combined with the management system have enabled energy savings of 80 per cent in Valmarino, 76 per cent in Sant'Angelo, and 60 per cent in Varmo, Philips said. It declined to say how much it charged or what the payback periods will be.

With buildings and streets that date back centuries, 'the three projects required a careful negotiation of ancient and modern design to complement the aesthetics of each town’s historic architecture, leaving the charm of the old town intact,' Philips noted.

The planning seems to have worked out as, according to Cison di Valmarino mayor Cristina Pan, 'The new white lighting has also enhanced the medieval village and its unique landscape, creating a magical atmosphere.'

One bit of magic that all three locations have passed on for now is the arrival of sensors that could broaden LEDs' usefulness outside of the lighting world by moving them into urban information networks.

Philips and other vendors are beginning to outfit LED luminaires and lampposts with technology that detects things like traffic conditions, parking, crowds, parking, air quality, noise, road surface temperatures and much more. A streetlight system in Kansas City can deliver retail analytics, while streetlights in Hamburg, Germany are helping to keep ships moving through the city's bustling port.

The city of Bristol, England is even contemplating 'Shazaming the birds' – using streetlight sensors that would send local birdsong to Shazam, typically a music identifying website, but one that can also identify species of birds. Bristol would use that information to help determine policy regarding the city's green spaces.

The possible applications are as big as the imagination. In hot medieval Italian towns, popular as holiday spots, perhaps there's a market for sensors and apps that communicate to tourists where the gelato has not yet melted.

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Photo is from Philips

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