As part of its quest to be carbon neutral by 2025, Copenhagen is looking hard at the kind of street lamps it should have. The city is setting up an experimental laboratory called the Danish Outdoor Lighting Lab (DOLL) in the suburb of Albertslund, where different smart street lamps will be featured and tested. The lab will cover about 9.2 kilometers of road in Albertslund and is intended to be a space where engineers can road test their street lighting solutions and municipalities from around the world are invited to see the industry’s latest innovations. The open-air laboratory will be open to the public on September 18, 2014.
So far, 25 companies have reserved space for their products in 300 meter square parcels of land. Every lamp will be assigned a separate IP address so they can be monitored remotely. The city will be testing smart lamps that dim if it is sunny, brighten if a few people pass by at night, or automatically alert the city when something isn’t working. Sensors that track traffic density, air quality, noise, weather conditions and UV radiation will also be fitted throughout the site to see what sort of environment the lights are operating in. All this will help work out which lights are making the biggest difference in terms of lowering costs and emissions. Visiting city officials will be able to run tests on the system by using sample data from their own city. DOLL manager Fleming Madsen says they are already planning for a visit from Chinese and Taiwanese officials later this year.
Robert Karlicek, director of the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, says the most exciting part about street lamp technology is not the energy efficiency aspect but all of the other things street lamps can and will be able to do. For example, if a street lamp senses a sudden rush of people in an area that’s usually deserted at night, police could be tipped off to go check the area out. “Really smart street light systems are going to be much more about the sensors the street lights have, than the LEDs that happen to be in them. The technology is getting very mature very quickly,” he says.