Tomorrow’s Cities Viewed In A New Light
The world’s population is projected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, with as much as 70% of that population likely to reside in urban areas. As populations increase, urban infrastructures will need to evolve. How cities find efficiencies, eliminate wastefulness, manage resources, and utilize technology will be key contributing factors in determining the overall quality of life. In other words, it’s time for cities to get smart.
Innovation, urbanization, and the growing need for energy-efficient solutions is fueling the rise of smart cities. FybrLyte, an intelligent street lighting platform from Fybr, is an ideal starting point for rolling out smart city applications. First off, FybrLyte delivers significant and near-immediate energy savings and operational efficiencies. This is an important driver, particularly in the current financial climate, yet cost savings and ROI are only one facet of what an anchor application like FybrLyte can bring.
When speaking to power savings, there are two facets to consider: the power required by the lighting controller, and the actual energy consumed by the light itself. FybrLyte’s controller is adaptable and quickly connects to existing street and roadway fixtures. Fybr’s lighting controller consumes .05W when on standby, and .6W when fixtures are illuminated. When you consider that current conventional light controllers can use anywhere from 3W (when active) to over 15W, the discrepancy becomes clear.
When moving beyond the controller to the light itself, the savings become even more pronounced, particularly when considering the sheer number of street lights cities require. Beginning with 5000 street lights, and figuring in some underlying assumptions- like a 300W LED street light, and an average of 9 hours fully-lit usage per day- the city above of 5000 lights would consume over 4.9 million kWh in one year. With one adjustment- dimming all lights to 25% brightness for 4.5 hours nightly – a city could save over 1.8 million kWh and nearly $150,000 annually.
If more lights are dimmed more often, or if the lights adjust only to employ full illumination when needed, the savings compound incrementally.
Using the basest assumptions and most conservative projections, our theoretical city’s savings pale in comparison to the numbers a metropolis like New York City can generate. With 250k street lights, NYC would save over $7 million in energy with FybrLyte, while reducing carbon emissions tens of thousands of tons annually. When cities and communities have increasingly cash strapped budgets, these figures alone can make a strong case for smart lighting.
The FybrLyte sensors themselves uncover efficiencies above and beyond their power consumption, as they not only enable accurate tracking of current light use, they make preventative maintenance and the dynamic adjustment of lighting levels easier. Operational efficiencies can be enhanced by instituting a preventive maintenance program for streetlights. Maintenance programs proactively identify lamp and power supply failures, which in turn reduce truck dispatch, customer service calls, and the related costs incurred.
With 250k street lights, NYC would save over $7 million in energy with FybrLyte, while reducing carbon emissions tens of thousands of tons annually.
The FybrLyte platform’s utility goes well beyond the power consumption, structural, and maintenance efficiencies it enables. Smart streetlights not only illuminate roadways but also become strategic assets with integrated sensing technologies. Sensor-equipped streetlights can encourage and enable public safety, for example. Automated lighting adjustments that brighten or dim lights depending on natural light levels, weather conditions, or population can improve visibility for pedestrians and cyclists, thus helping reduce accidents and crime. Applications that monitor temperature, humidity, and air quality are easily integrated into the system as well.
To qualify as “smart,” a city must be sustainable. While smart street lighting reduces energy waste, it also generates insights from the data collected that can help validate the criteria for green initiatives and sustainability goals. When cities smartly use information and technology to engage citizens, deliver city services, and enhance urban systems, significant cost efficiencies, a more resilient infrastructure, and an overall improved urban experience follow.
As the city grid expands, so can the FybrLyte network, easily integrating new fixtures into the existing system. By setting schedules to reduce energy during low-demand times, energy is no longer wasted, and those funds can be allocated elsewhere. Through smart lighting, maintenance operations become more efficient, as fault notifications are sent automatically, flagging potential failures, and streamlining the repair process. This all inevitably leads to markedly lower maintenance costs, significant energy savings, and even lower CO2 emissions.
Smart technologies like FybrLyte can help anticipate, manage, and even offset the expense of a rising population. By investing in such technologies now, cities of all sizes can navigate the challenges that urban growth will doubtlessly pose in the future.
A recent study found that, in the United States, drivers on average lost 99 hours in 2019 due to congestion—two hours more than in 2017, and the highest annual amount measured to date. Urban growth trends further complicate the picture—currently over 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and by 2050, that number will exceed 68%.
COVID-19 has had a pronounced effect on U.S. cities of all sizes, leading to increased expenditures and reduced revenues virtually across the board. The projected hit to U.S. economic growth from the ensuing recession will exacerbate the situation, presenting even more challenges for cities as they struggle to maintain structural balance.
It’s no surprise that thousands of U.S. cities are anticipating significant budget cuts this year. The widespread financial chaos isn’t sparing any sector, and communities large and small are hurting. Sharp declines in tax revenues due to closing businesses are already causing cities to slash expenditures and, barring new developments, we can soon expect reductions in local public safety agencies, police department staff, public works, and more. It makes sense then, that investigating ways to rapidly inject revenue into cities has taken on a new urgency.