This post was written by Keith Dawson for UBM Tech’s community Web site All LED Lighting, sponsored by Philips Lumileds. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the All LED Lighting site may go dark at any time. This material is Copyright 2013-2015 by UBM Americas.

2014-07-24

Buenos Aires Lighting Up With Connected LEDs

Argentina's capital city has contracted with Philips to replace 91,000 street lights with smart and centrally controlled units.

That's more than 70% of the street lighting stock in the city. The contract with Philips (a division of which sponsors this site) was announced late last year and so far the project has replaced 28,000 lights. It is expected to wrap up in 2016.

The video below shows some of the early results. Energy use has been reduced 50% to 55% so far -- enough to illuminate all the schools and hospitals in the city with the savings. Outdoor spaces and parks are being used more after dark, because people report feeling safer in the brighter light. The higher CCT and CRI light makes it easier to recognizes faces, and for the same reason improves the performance of security cameras. As the video notes, the lighting "makes the city more beautiful," richly rendering the greens that abound in Buenos Aires, making buildings and bridges look more natural.

The lights are centrally controlled by Philips CityTouch software, which the product brochure says is in use in Toronto, London, and Singapore, in addition to Buenos Aires. The system of software, luminaires, drivers, and sensors is designed for 99.9% availability, according to the brochure -- at most eight hours downtime per year.

How smart a city?
Buenos Aires doesn't seem to be taking advantage of other potential "smart" capabilities of sensors hosted on light poles, beyond the control of the lighting and reporting outages for maintenance purposes. That is, unlike the Array of Things project in Chicago, there are no wide-view cameras and no sensors for noise level, air pollution, or the momentary density of people near a particular pole.

Buenos Aires is in the early stages of transforming itself into a smart city. Boyd Cohen, an internationally recognized authority on smart cities, moved there in 2013. He wrote a post for Fast Company Co-Exist listing some of the city's plusses as it began to try to up its urban IQ. A comprehensive transportation infrastructure was one of them.

A year later Cohen had moved on to Santiago, Chile, bemoaning the diminished prospects of an aspiring smart city that happens to be located in a stupid country. (That would be Argentina under its current national leadership.)

Buenos Aires does have a nascent "innovation district" of the sort that Barcelona pioneered and Boston and Santiago, Chile have emulated with good success. The difficulty in Argentina is that national policies limit the flows of people and money into and out of the country. If an aspiring entrepreneur can't get a visa that lets her stay more than a week in the capital city, she will not be encouraged to set up shop there.

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