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San Diego to Deploy World’s Largest City-Based ‘Internet of Things’ Platform Using Smart Streetlights

  |   Intelligent Streetlights, Smart Cities San Diego

The City of San Diego is partnering with GE to upgrade streetlights to reduce energy costs by 60 percent as well as transform them into a connected digital network that can optimize parking and traffic, enhance public safety and track air quality.


The deployment of 3,200 smart sensors will be the largest city-based deployment of an “Internet of Things” platform in the world.


“Fostering innovation and improving infrastructure are important to enhancing the lives of all San Diegans,” Mayor Faulconer said. “This new technology will give the City and developers the opportunity to make our neighborhoods safer and smarter.”


The City will be installing smart nodes that can use real-time anonymous sensor data to do things such as direct drivers to open parking spaces, help first responders during emergencies, track carbon emissions and identify intersections that can be improved for pedestrians and cyclists. The information can be used to support San Diego’s “Vision Zero” strategy to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries.


GE’s digital engine for intelligent environments, called “Current,” specializes in creating intelligent environments for commercial buildings and industrial facilities. GE has been working to extend similar digital capabilities across cities via their lighting infrastructure.


“We’re honored to be part of this historic transformation,” said Maryrose Sylvester, President & CEO of Current, powered by GE. “We have a proud history of helping San Diego proactively save energy through efficient lighting, and now we’re expanding that same infrastructure beyond energy into a new realm of intelligence.”


The 3,200 sensor nodes across the city are the latest step in creating a smart network. There is the potential to expand to another 3,000 points in the future.


The anonymous information from the sensors can be used by developers to create apps and software that can benefit the community.


“This technology is powerful. Downtown visitors will be able to find parking easily and in real time using a smart phone, and the environmental and transportation data will help Downtown meet the goals of the Climate Action Plan. This is a huge win for San Diego,” said Kris Michell, the President & CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership. 


Additionally, the City will be replacing 14,000 streetlights with more energy efficient versions, which will reduce energy costs by $2.4 million annually. These streetlights include technology that allows for dimming and brightening in public venues manually or automatically, depending on natural light conditions.


The City expects the project to achieve an estimated 60 percent reduction in energy. In addition to reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions, the streetlights will also reduce light pollution. Adaptive controls reduce environmental impacts by providing the ability to further dim the lights on fixtures remotely, based on need or situation, and lumen maintenance capabilities, therefore saving additional energy and the life of the fixture.


The Adaptive Control System is an advanced SDG&E approved “meter” that captures real time interval data, monitoring and notifications for maintenance purposes and also provides GPS coordinates at each fixture. Over the life of each fixture the system automatically ramps up power as needed to meet specified lighting standards.


Installation of the new lights will begin citywide this summer and the project is expected to be completed by fall 2018.


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