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New York's Lights Get Smarter

image credit: ID 101451052 © Tomas1111 |

New York state is overhauling its street lights. Although the initiative was officially announced in 2018, it wasn’t until this year that a comprehensive plan really started to take shape. So far, the New York Power Association and their partner Signify have installed 50,000 new units across the empire state. By the time of completion, 500,000 traditional street lights will have been replaced with LED, IOT capable models. 

Being LEDs, the new lights should save the state energy and money. The NYPA’s predictions on the matter are summarized in an article over at Fierce Electronics: “LEDs can reduce the wattage of a single luminary from 250 watts to as low as 75 watts, which translates into the potential for annual energy consumption reduction of nearly 500 gigawatt hours, enough to power nearly 45,000 households, according to NYPA.”

More interestingly, at least to tech fans like myself, are the potential these news lights may possess in the smart city realm. Connected to the internet of things, in theory the lights can be managed remotely, rarely requiring in person inspections. However, the lights’ benefits go beyond their own maintenance. With weather sensors attached to them, they can feed relevant parties information about conditions around the region, informing decisions on road closures, snow plowing, etc. 

Although it’s not stated in any of the press releases for the project, digitizing always presents an opportunity cost: efficiency at the cost of security. It will be interesting to see if these smart lights ignite any controversy. I think it’s unlikely, at least until something goes wrong. It seems the public’s fear of smart meters and other digital utility tools have faded significantly in the past decade, although I’m not sure the risks have.


Ben Ettlinger's picture
Ben Ettlinger on Jun 26, 2020

There is no such thing as the New York Power Association. You must mean the New York Power Authority.

Henry Craver's picture
Henry Craver on Jun 30, 2020

Thanks for pointing that out, Ben! 

Henry Craver's picture

Thank Henry for the Post!

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