Real proof points for smart cities are elusive, and typically only small-scale pilots in various cities around the world.
A group of European city leaders are, however, making a commitment to change that. Representatives from city-clusters across Europe (Greater London, Metropole Rotterdam Den Haag (MRDH), Bordeaux Metropole and broader Aquitaine, Piedmont region and soon also a Spanish city-cluster) signed a declaration to align their ‘humble lamppost’ project activities.
The collaboration seeks to install more-common component-based solutions at scale, both within each cluster and, through a coordinated approach, across the group of city clusters.
This will have a marked positive impact on the market. It will deliver the scale and consistency of needs that attracts the supply market, and the scale that delivers better value solutions at more affordable prices for the cities and their citizens. A clear win all around.
Light is a fundamental service in a city. It ensures safe transport, makes cities safer, and ensures that cities look their best. However, there is so much more that can be done to augment lampposts so that they can deliver a broader range of services for cities and their citizens.
Commissioner Gabriel, at the General Assembly of the European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities in Sofia on 28th June gave a clear message of support for such concrete examples that demonstrate the effectiveness of the European Smart Cities Partnership. “The ‘smart lamppost’ is in my view an ideal candidate to demonstrate the benefits of adoption at large scale in many cities of a key innovative device and components that can deliver, in one go, smart city solutions”.
Commissioner Gabriel also shed light on the funding instruments at European level, from which cities could benefit in the future, noting the recent forward-looking proposal presented for the EU- budget, for the period 2020-2027, with a strong digital dimension. Among these, “WiFi4EU, will allocate €120 million for 6,000 to 8,000 municipalities, in order to develop free public hotspots.”
One of the 12 EU ‘lighthouse’ programmes, Sharing Cities, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sao Paolo in Brazil to collaborate on smart city solutions, of which 4 have been identified including the humble lamppost.
“This is a very significant step for the Sharing Cities programme as it seeks to not only collaborate within Europe with our partner cities and the other ‘Lighthouse’ programmes, now also to have a major influence on and learn from worldwide developments. Good for the cities, good for industry, and good for investors” said Theo Blackwell, the Mayor of London’s Chief Digital Officer.
Says Graham Colclough, chair of the European Partnership’s work on Integrated Infrastructure and lead of the ‘Humble Lamppost’ initiative: “Europe has somewhere between 60 to 90 million lampposts; 75% of them are more than 25 years old, and only a single digit percentage of them use energy-efficient bulbs. We waste €200 million each week in energy that could be saved by upgrading the lights. And though this upgrade is happening too many cities are losing out on a whole range of additional benefits that they could get from this city-wide array of powered assets including: electric vehicle charging, air quality and broader environmental monitoring, connectivity to improve public Wi-Fi and ready for the burgeoning volumes of sensors and devices that are forecast, CCTV to improve public safety, …and aybe even in the future drone charging on top of your local lamppost?!”
“People tend to care about lighting only when it doesn’t work!” stated Deputy Mayor Alain Turby of Bordeaux Metropole, a fellow city in Sharing Cities. With these planned developments, perhaps they will pay a bit more heed to their not so ‘humble’ lampposts in the future.
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This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement N°691895
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