Imagine this: You head out for dinner at a popular new restaurant in a hip part of downtown on a Saturday night. Before you leave home, you know the fastest route there and where you’ll park.


Using data collected from sensors on the light fixture that’s been combined with your city’s other information systems, your car will “tell” you about construction areas to avoid, to valet park because the nearest garage is full, and to not waste time driving around the block because there hasn’t been on-street parking for hours.

This scenario is closer to reality than most people think.

Equipped with computers and sensors that provide a real-time view of what’s going on, LED fixtures can become high-performing, low-cost communication networks. From parking and traffic — including cars, bicycles, and pedestrians — to temperature, humidity, precipitation, and ozone level, they’ll provide the foundation for multiple infrastructure solutions.

San Diego is exploring the possibilities with GE Lighting’s Intelligent Cities platform.

Last year, the city replaced 3,000 high-pressure sodium (HPS) streetlights in the popular Gaslight Quarter with the LightGrid wireless control system. This consists of custom-designed Avery Streetdreams fixture with Evolve post-top LED, a control node with GPS chip and radio antenna, and Web-based software for advanced lighting control, traffic and parking optimization, and environmental monitoring and analysis.

Officials expect to save at least $250,000 annually via lower utility bills and more effective asset management. They’ll save money because LED technology is more energy-efficient than HPS, but also because they’ll pay only for the energy each light uses instead of a flat-rate tariff. Managers will be able to program when each light, or group of lights, turns on and off and at what intensity. They’ll see exactly what’s wrong with each light from their desktop, iPad, and/or smartphone, so they can tell crews what replacement equipment to load into their truck.

Next page: Maximizing replacement capital