As our streets become smarter, opportunities arise to accommodate new technology within –and thereby to enhance – street furniture.
While many lighting columns are now fitted with sensors to control their operation remotely, trials have been undertaken for the installation of smart lanterns on key streets, which can host a variety of smart technology to measure aspects such as pollution, weather, pedestrian flows and vehicle traffic.
The large number of street lights in Essex constitute an unrivalled opportunity to roll out smart technology on a large scale, providing a significant amount of data and information about our streets and living environments.
Instead of allocating specific technological functions and associated hardware to lighting columns, the latest trials have involved the testing of software integrated into intelligent lanterns which can be adapted and run alongside a series of programmes or apps related to specific needs. This effectively futureproofs the installation and allows it to adapt as new technology becomes available.
Development should consider how smart street furniture can be integrated into the public realm and streetscape through the provision of necessary underground infrastructure and connections (such as superfast broadband and additional power capacity). The same principles should be applied to other street furniture items with similar potential, such as refuse bins that report when they are almost full or wayfinding measures that offer connectivity to smartphone apps.
Page updated: 30/01/2018