March 23, 2009 By Elaine Rundle
State and local governments looking to improve efficiency and cut costs are casting their gaze skyward -- at streetlights -- for an answer. Some cities are modernizing their streetlights with light-emitting diodes (LEDs), others link them to centralized control systems and some do a combination of both.
Replacing the high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs commonly used in streetlights with LEDs is a simple solution that can yield big benefits. According to a report from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Transcending the Replacement Paradigm of Solid-State Lighting, by Jong Kyu Kim and E. Fred Schubert, "Deployed on a large scale, LEDs have the potential to tremendously reduce pollution, save energy, save financial resources, and add new and unprecedented functionalities to photonic devices."
Another strategy used by some municipalities is implementing a centralized control system that alerts officials when a light goes out. Previously a city worker or resident had to see a malfunctioning light and report it. A centralized system allows manpower to be used more efficiently and helps track energy consumption.
Anchorage, Alaska, is lighting up the northern sky as the city works toward converting all its 16,500 streetlights to LEDs.
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