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Guiding lights

Melony Rocque talks to Matt Wakelam, the Head of Infrastructure and Operations at the City of Cardiff about its continued journey towards a smarter and more sustainable future

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Aerial shot of Cardiff
Aerial shot of Cardiff

The City of Cardiff has joined international cities Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Jakarta, Los Angeles, Toronto and UK towns Warrington, Trafford, Hounslow, Croydon, Lewisham and the Isle of Wight, in deploying the Philips’ CityTouch streetlight management system.

 

The network of 14, 000 energy-efficient Philips Luma LED street lights by contractor Centregreat, now provides Cardiff with a scalable digital infrastructure that can provide additional smart city services in the future.

 

The Cardiff deployment marks the 1,000th implementation of the Philips CityTouch management system that spans across 37 global cities and towns in the five years since it was launched in 2012.

 

The Philips CityTouch system is used to monitor, control and manage an entire lighting network by connecting wirelessly to each light point. This enables lighting managers to dim or increase the brightness of streetlights to meet the needs of the city at any given moment. For example, brightness levels can be increased near busy crossings or to help emergency services.

 

Philips CityTouch also offers a powerful lighting asset management capability. Through a web browser, the lighting manager has multiple screens and a map-based view of the city’s lighting assets and workflows. Here network performance can be monitored in near real time, identify faults and dispatch crews to precise locations, eliminating the need for night crews to drive around looking for faulty lights.

 

SCW spoke to Matt Wakelam, the Head of Infrastructure and Operations at the City of Cardiff about this deployment and other smart city matters.

 

 

SCW: Is lighting the first obvious smart city scaled-up initiative in Cardiff?

MW: Street lighting is the first smart city initiative that will have a direct impact on residents across the City. As we progress with the work to complete Cardiff having 100 per cent LED street lighting with Philips CityTouch control, the residents will be able to see how we can utilise the lighting to make improvements to urban life.

 

 

SCW: Can you give more detail about the consultation with people with hearing and visual impairment, and how this impacted on the project?

MW: The City of Cardiff recognised that the end-user of street lighting would be the residents themselves. An emphasis was therefore made to ensure that partially sighted, deaf and other groups as well as residents were included to review the trial lighting site that was set up behind City Hall. Through this engagement the City of Cardiff was able to select a lantern and associated specification that provided the best lighting conditions.

 

 

 

SCW: What other smart city initiatives are being piloted in the city at present?

MW: Cardiff has had some smart city initiatives for some time. An example is a traffic management system known as SCOOT, that optimises green light time at traffic intersections by feeding back magnetometer and inductive loop data to a supercomputer, which can co-ordinate traffic lights across the city to improve traffic movements.

 

The City of Cardiff has also operated real time information with regards to bus movements, to provide live information at bus stops for when the next bus will arrive.

 

Recent developments introduced include SmartPark, which shows the public real time availability and guidance to parking spaces in the City by using three thousand, three hundred sensors and ninety-seven SmartSpots. Smart Parking has provided SmartSpot Omni gateways providing a single ‘street furniture’ device that not only collects data from parking sensors but also allows integration with a wide range of smart city initiatives.

 

 

SCW: What other smart city services do you see this lighting infrastructure spawning, and what is likely to come next?

MW: The City of Cardiff recognises that residents will want to have more information to their personal devices and will expect council services to be reactive to their demands. Therefore, technology like Philips CityTouch will be important in controlling street lighting levels for aspects like event management, support of emergency services attending road traffic accidents and also allowing lighting on roads to be controlled depending on vehicle flows. Lighting infrastructure is being used as a basis for solutions in many areas such as:

  • Environment or pollution monitoring
  • Transport optimisation (traffic management and parking)
  • Public safety – events and incidents
  • Electric vehicle charging
  • Wi-Fi and internet provision
  • Digital signage and public communication

 

 

SCW: Sustainability informs your smart city approach thanks to your commitment to a ‘one planet city’ but how in practice are your citizens reacting, responding and engaging with this? How are you incentivising them?

MW: Cardiff today is a three-planet city. If everyone in the world consumed natural resources and generated carbon dioxide at the rate we do in Cardiff, we would need three planets to support us. This is not sustainable or equitable to everyone we share our planet with.

 

Our aspiration is for Cardiff to be a one-planet city by 2050. The City of Cardiff recognises that to achieve this aspiration that it needs to lead the way and support the residents of Cardiff change how they currently consume natural resources. Key areas are energy use, waste, food, transport and the value of goods in a throwaway society. By using a smart city approach the City of Cardiff recognises that it is able to engage with more residents and influence behaviour by the information and data provided.

 

 

SCW: What impact has the lighting transformation made on both an economic and societal level?

MW: The introduction of LED street lighting with Philips CityTouch has supported a 50-60 per cent reduction in energy consumption and in 2016/17 savings of £800,000 per annum on energy charges will be achieved. This represents £16 million of savings over 20 years that represents the envisaged life of the LED lantern asset.

 

At a societal level the use of Philips CityTouch will mean that our street lighting is dynamic. The City of Cardiff will be able to identify faults remotely and even see voltage surges that indicate a fault is going to occur. Further to this the City of Cardiff will be able to control lighting levels to suit the residents’ demands, be it lifting lighting levels during events in the city centre or dimming lighting during the night when the majority of people are sleeping.

 

 

 

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