Launch Slideshow

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Control Freaks

Control Freaks

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    From left, clockwise: Guy Carignan, John-Pierre Desrochers, and Daniel Charest engineered North America's first IP-controlled street-lighting system. Benefits include Web-based control and status reporting.Photo: Francis Vachon

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    Photocell sensors installed on select lights turn all fixtures on and off, helping reduce overall energy use by 30%.Photos: Echelon Corp.

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    Quebec City's first managed-streetlight system was installed in the historical district of Charlesbourg to highlight the buildings' architecture. The lights add charm, especially in winter, making the area more attractive to tourists and residents. Photo: Echelon Corp.

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    Streetlights equipped with electronic ballasts communicate with the segment controller using power line communication and IP protocol. The segment controller provides operational data to, and receives control signals from, remote users via a Web portal. Illustration: Echelon Corp.

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    Quebec City's remotely controlled and monitored streetlight system uses Echelon's LonWorks power line technology and i.Lon Internet servers to reduce energy use at times of peak demand. Shown in this image are the street controller with the segment controller (mounted, upper right), energy submeter, and modem connection to the wide-area network. Photo: Echelon Corp.

The company also offers several control system options.

New this year, GridSmart is a vision-based traffic monitoring and control system that replaces loop systems and capital-intensive central control systems by using patent-pending heuristics and genetic algorithms at the local intersection level. The resulting automated, proactive real-time traffic management system maximizes traffic flow, thus reducing carbon emissions. It also increases safety by sensing and reacting to approaching emergency vehicles and potential red-light runners.

Last year, Winchester, Tenn., replaced all its incandescent traffic lights with the brighter LED signals under Aldis' plan.

In addition to reducing energy costs and improving safety, the plan reduces potential liability for accidents at intersections. Because the signals are networked, the city has a computer record of each light's operation and can confirm that a particular light was working properly at a certain time. Winchester is slated to be one of the first cities to try the GridSmart system.

Clearly, there are many opportunities to improve system performance and efficiency. But there's a lot to learn along the way as well.

— Klemens is senior editor with CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION, a sister magazine of PUBLIC WORKS.