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New York Program to Install 500K Smart LED Streetlights

NYPA and Signify, formerly known as Philips Lighting, are working together on a program to offer hardware, low-rate loans and technical support to put more smart lights in cities across the state of New York.

A worker retrofits a light pole with an LED fixture.
A New York Power Authority worker installs an LED fixture in Albany, N.Y.
Courtesy New York Power Authority (Flickr)
A joint initiative between New York’s statewide power utility and the smart lighting company Signify proposes to replace at least 500,000 streetlights across the state with new LED technology by 2025.

Through the initiative, called Smart Street Lighting NY, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) will offer low-rate loans as well as financial, technical and other support for municipalities that want to upgrade, according to a news release. Participating agencies will have the option to buy physical lighting assets from local utilities or Signify, which will also act as an adviser and strategic partner.

Signify, formerly known as Philips Lighting until 2018, sells streetlights that can be mounted with various IoT sensors and managed on its proprietary software platform, Interact City. NYPA and Signify are framing the project as a way for cities to not only upgrade aging assets, but lay the groundwork for more smart city infrastructure and data collection in the future. Among other things, the streetlights can accommodate tilt, vibration and noise sensors, which can share data with emergency responders through the Interact City platform, while specific “smart poles” called BrightSites can hold cellular equipment and Wi-Fi transmitters.

In a public statement, the city of Rochester’s Street Lighting Program Coordinator Abebe Woldemariam said Signify’s platform and streetlights have the potential to save power, money and staff time while adding functionality.

“The Interact City platform opens up a variety of options for city maintenance and governance,” he said in the statement. “We can now remotely monitor the system via a central dashboard, identifying required maintenance very quickly. Should any glitch occur, the system proactively prompts managers even before our residents have noticed, and that’s a big plus.”

Martin Stephenson, Signify’s head of North America systems and services, said in a statement that the push to get these lights in more cities across New York comes down to “urbanization, digitalization and sustainability.”

“Through NYPA and Signify’s shared vision, communities can improve light quality, generate significant energy savings, and improve citizen safety and well-being using leading-edge technologies,” he said.

The news release pointed to a “growing number of municipalities” collaborating with NYPA as evidence that streetlights are a cornerstone of smart city infrastructure. In any case, this is only the latest of several NYPA initiatives in recent years, which have included a smart buoy system to safeguard underwater power cables, a sensor-driven monitoring system for the state’s power plants, a $250 million plan to add more electric vehicle charging stations, and a $500,000 grant for a smart streetlight project in Syracuse.