Smart Lighting As A Stepping Stone Towards Smart Cities

By Elke den Ouden. TU/e Fellow New Business Development in Public-Private Value Networks, Eindhoven University of Technology
Autumn 2015

Cities strive to improve quality of life for their citizens and see opportunities in new ICT-based technologies. Public lighting and public lighting infrastructure can play a significant role as a stepping stone to achieve the ambitions of cities to become 'smart cities'. New technologies, like LED lighting and data science, do not only contribute to energy saving, but at the same time provide opportunities for value adding services. The industry is in transition from a hardware and product-driven industry to a full solution and data based servicedriven industry.

Moving beyond the functionality of products to meaningful applications providing value for citizens and society requires a change in paradigm that affects all participants in the quadruple helix (government, businesses, knowledge institutes and citizens). In this article we will highlight two of the prominent changes in the innovation process.

The ultimate goal of urban solutions is to provide value for societal stakeholders by creating a healthy, liveable city with a vibrant economy. Many of the smart city solutions exist of a variety of sensors (weather, movements, energy consumption, camera's etc.) and mash up the gathered data with freely available open data to gain insights in emerging patterns that can be used for various software applications. For example, in Stratumseind, the pub street in the city of Eindhoven, a smart lighting solution aims to influence the atmosphere in the street and reduce the number of aggressive incidents that are inherent to entertainment districts. With dynamic lighting scenarios the mood, stress level and behaviour of the visitors is influenced. Data from various sources is collected to determine in real time the risk of escalation and apply the appropriate lighting scenario. Real time measurements, such as 3D sound, social media watching, people counting, as well as open data on e.g. weather, events in the area or results of important soccer matches, and data that becomes available with a delay, e.g. police reports on incidents, determination of origin of mobile devices, waste collection or the amount beverages consumed. Historical data from past incidents is used to find correlations and parameters to predict risk levels of escalation. One of the challenges in such projects lies in integrating all information collected and analysing data of different nature to establish the risk for escalation in realtime. Another challenge is the realisation of an adaptive open platform that connects the devices and services from different providers and is able to anticipate on continuous developments in technologies and services, so it is upgradable to also meet future needs. An open platform enables the integration of forthcoming innovations. To guard public interest it is necessary to ensure the privacy and security of the users of the platform, especially for urban public systems. In the innovation process not only the different parts of the system need to be designed, but the open platform that ensures privacy and security by design as well.

The shift from products to services addressing societal needs and to the creation of open platforms that enable continuous innovation also invokes new business models. The business models should generate a recurring revenue stream that enable continuous investment in upgrades of the hardware, as well as the development of new scenarios and applications as part of the service. New hardware and software will become available over time, allowing new functionalities, and the context and use of the urban space will change and lead to new needs. To ensure that the system has a sufficiently long economic lifetime it will need to be able to include new and at present unknowable modules. For example, at Hoekenrodeplein, a square in Amsterdam near the ArenA stadium, an adaptive lighting system is installed to increase not only sustainability and safety - by providing a light-on-demand solution - but also hospitality by creating different ambiances that fit to different activities on the square. This has value for the owners of shops, pubs and restaurants near the square as they benefit from a more lively square, but traditionally they are not included in the business models for public lighting. Moreover, with such an adaptive system it becomes possible to further enhance the hospitality by turning part of the square into a virtual street performer's music stage. The concept re-uses the lighting by creating a spotlight and the camera's and wifi for the adaptive system can be used to stream video’s to internet. The only investment needed is in the software app to book the stage and stream the content. This service could generate a stream of recurring revenues, but the question is who is willing to exploit it, as it is significantly different from the traditional business models in the sector.

Enabling continuous innovation based on progressive insights, changing contexts and new opportunities requires a business model that includes value creation for existing as well as new participants on the platform and enables on-going investments.

These examples show the challenges in creating and implementing smart solutions that are truly serving the needs of people and making the city an attractive place to live.