Smart urban lighting refers to a lighting system that enables the effective, automatic and environmentally-friendly integration of physical, digital and social systems to ensure not only the best illumination, safety and interoperability in all situations but also the possibility of developing new paradigms such as Smart Buildings, Smart Cities and Smart Grids (Efficient Smart Lighting Report, 2016).
According to a 2015 ASSIL study, public lighting accounts for 12 per cent of the total electricity consumption for illumination in Italy and is one of the largest items of expenditure on the energy bill for Italian municipalities, estimated at some 1.5 billion euro per year. Upgrading public facilities with a view to smart lighting thus generates energy and maintenance savings with significant cost reductions.
Through modern technologies (luminaires and management and control systems), intelligent urban lighting systems ensure the reduction of operating costs and contribute to the creation of optimal conditions for the proper use of urban and street spaces and for the safety of citizens (ASSIL, 2015).
Intelligent lighting technologies that can be applied in urban environments are numerous, with each characterised by a functionality in line with the context of application.
“Point-to-point” telecontrol is a system based on powerline technology that enables digital communication between the module installed at the individual lighting point and the management module. By monitoring electrical parameters, this system facilitates total diagnostics of the individual luminaire. In this way, a maximum of information useful for management is obtained in order to switch on, switch off, minimise consumption and adjust the intensity of individual luminaires, availing of manual or automatic controls (Efficient Smart Lighting Report, 2016).
Remote management and interoperability ensure two-way communication between the peripheral device and the control centre on the status, alarms and measurements of each individual lighting point. The control centre communicates with the periphery to modify programming, switch-on, switch-off and adjustment settings in real time. Such operations are carried out through open software that interacts with other systems in a Smart City perspective.
The remote-control system of the lighting set-up can be integrated and is able to dialogue with other intelligent technologies. The aim is to enable solutions and services that are useful for citizens such as, for example, deployment of Wi-Fi connectivity in public areas, video surveillance, e-mobility services, smart parking and smart mobility.
In the case of a “point-to-point” remote control system, each luminaire becomes an “intelligent pole”, a vehicle for useful information that can be shared with other technologies in an open logic in order to create a smart and interactive network. Thanks to this intelligent pole, the urban centre or city becomes “smart” – ergo, an intelligent city.
One of the main objectives of a smart city is to save energy by replacing the traditional public lighting infrastructure with innovative LED solutions and technologies that render urban spaces safer and more efficient.
The decree implementing the PNRR – Italy’s Recovery and Resilience Plan – brings funds that enable municipalities to renew their lighting systems with a smart perspective in the interest of energy efficiency and digital transformation.
Upgrading lighting installations through the use of modern LED technology, remote management, sensor systems and IoT then reduces energy consumption by up to 40–60 per cent, per the Osservatorio Conti Pubblici Italiani (Italian Public Accounts Observatory).