Britain’s first ‘smart streetlights’ – with the potential to monitor pollution, create Wi-Fi hotspots and even guide driverless vehicles – are being trialled on a road in Chelmsford.
The new Philips DigiStreet LED streetlights are being piloted by Essex County Council under an initiative that could ultimately see thousands of the new lights rolled out across the county.
The trial is part of an ‘innovative’ project using new technology to allow Essex County Council to create ‘Smart Places’ along the county’s road network.
The new lights include an extra ‘universal sensor’ socket built into the lamp at the top of the pole. This allows devices to be attached such as sensors to collect data on air quality, traffic movements and pedestrian numbers.
In future, the attachments could potentially offer a number of other features using the power supply from the streetlight.
Cllr Ian Grundy, Essex County Council cabinet member for highways, said: “We can be flexible and agile in adapting the devices for future needs – these could include providing Wi-Fi hotspots along key routes and monitoring pollution levels in real-time.
“There could even be potential links to navigation for driverless cars to help them avoid traffic jams, smart traffic signals and even the ability to monitor the condition of roads and pavements.”
Currently, Essex Highways is using the plug sockets on the trial streetlights to remotely adjust the brightness of the lantern.
Cllr Kevin Bentley, deputy leader of Essex County Council, added: “We are taking advantage of new technology to create the potential for Smart Cities which will use technology to improve the quality of life for residents.
“New technology supports our ambition to embrace digital to give our residents and businesses the quality of life and work they aspire to.
“If the trial is successful, the options for these ‘smart’ streetlights are almost limitless going forward.”