Silver Spring Networks, the smart grid networking company that wants to expand its reach to streetlights, traffic signals and other “smart city” devices, will get a chance to try it out in a city famous for its lights, Paris.
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Elsewhere, Silver Spring is also focusing on LED street lights for its push into city networking, he said. Last month it announced a partnership with LED Roadway Lighting, a Canadian company that makes LED replacement modules meant to fit into existing streetlight fixtures, for example. (LEDs are a natural fit for streetlights, since they last longer and run cheaper than their high-pressure sodium and metal halide predecessors, and offer a range of digital controls that lend themselves well to being networked.)
Beyond energy and operational savings, “there’s a whole spectrum of applications” for a network that uses ubiquitous traffic lights and light poles as its nodes, Hughes said. Silver Spring is working on projects with San Antonio, Texas municipal utility CPS Energy, as well as with partners in Singaporeand Malaysia, that are aimed at expanding its wireless networks to more end-points in a city, though details are as yet scarce.
In Paris, Silver Spring hasn’t yet picked any other specific features it will be working on with Evesa, Hughes said. Neither have the parties defined just what communications technologies they’ll use to get there, he said, though Silver Spring offers multiple networking technologies, including its RF mesh system now used to network millions of smart meters around the world and its newer cellular-compatible technology.
Silver Spring is far from the only company looking to streetlights as the logical node for citywide wireless networks, of course. San Jose, Calif.-based smart grid networking company Echelon has been connecting streetlights via the company’s powerline carrier (PLC) technology, now in use by lighting companies like Philips and Osram, and smart meter players like Sensus and ABB’s Tropos Networkshave been adding streetlights to the list of devices they’re connecting in citywide wireless networks, to name a few competing examples.
At the same time, the market for smart streetlights is still tiny, with about half a million communications nodes shipped globally last year. However, Navigant’s Pike Research predicts the number of communications nodes to climb to 4.8 million by 2020, driven by rising energy prices and proof-of-concept deployments going on today proving out their worth.