A major US city has dropped an Internet of Things based lighting system, saying that they have more important things to work on.
Jacksonville, Florida’s most populous city, opted to ditch a pilot installation by GE that was set to involve equipping some of its street lights with chips and sensors that would eventually do everything from improving lighting controls and efficiency to detecting free parking spaces for motorists.
The lights would also be able to alert the public about hurricanes, weather events that are common in Florida.
‘Upon the conclusion of a pilot scheme, the city did not move forward with the program,’ a City of Jacksonville spokesperson told Lux’s partner publication LEDs Magazine.
It is not clear exactly what discouraged Jacksonville from proceeding and the spokesperson declined to elaborate when asked if costs or operability stymied the project.
It is possible that Jacksonville authorities were concerned with things like data protection, data ownership, privacy, and security issues associated with IoT projects, which are sometimes prone to hacking.
Politics could also have intervened, as the city signed up to the pilot in April 2015 under Democratic Mayor Alvin Brown, who gave way to Republican Lenny Curry a few months later in July.
The spokesperson would only say that the city pulled the plug in early 2016 because it 'had other priorities that took precedence.'
That's hardly how Mayor Brown characterised the project at its kickoff, when he enthused, ‘This technology has the potential to transform how our city solves problems by allowing us to use the power of data to drive outcomes that give us flexibility, efficiency, and new, creative actions to enhance life in our city.’
GE has enjoyed better outdoor fortunes in San Diego, where it launched a Jacksonville-like pilot scheme at around the same time as the Florida project.
The San Diego smart lighting trial ended in August, and last mont it was announced that San Diego was now investing $30 million to deploy 3200 of GE's CityIQ sensor nodes on street-light poles starting, with the possibility of another 3000 nodes later this year.
San Diego is also upgrading 14,000 light fixtures, which is about a quarter of the city's street lights.
The city aims to use the system to save energy by more intelligently turning lights on, off, up, and down as needed, and also to gather information to help with parking, traffic, and in fighting crime.