New ‘smart’ streetlights have been installed in Chelmsford, Essex, offering the potential to monitor pollution, create Wi-Fi hotspots and – in the future – guide driverless vehicles.
Essex County Council expects the trial of six Philips DigiStreet LED streetlights – the first in Britain – to result in thousands of the high-tech lights rolling out across the county.
The council’s Deputy Leader, Kevin Bentley, said: “We are taking advantage of new technology to create the potential for Smart Cities which will use technology to improve the quality of life for our residents.
“New technology allows us to offer residents more, for less, and supports our ambition to embrace digital to give our residents and businesses the quality of life and work they aspire to.
“If the trial is successful, the options for these ‘smart’ streetlights are almost limitless going forward.”
The new lights include an extra socket at the top of the pole which allows the local authority to attach devices such as sensors to collect data on air quality, traffic movements and pedestrian numbers.
A number of other features could also be introduced, such as Wi-Fi hotspots along key routes and monitoring of pollution levels in real-time.
“There could even be potential links to navigation for driverless cars to help them avoid traffic jams, smart traffic signals and even the ability to monitor the condition of roads and pavements,” explained Ian Grundy, the council’s cabinet member for highways.
Essex Highways is currently using the sockets on the trial streetlights to remotely adjust the brightness of the lights.