Smart streetlights: a feasibility study

Mohring, Karl Andrew (2018) Smart streetlights: a feasibility study. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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The world's cities are growing. The effects of population growth and urbanisation mean that more people are living in cities than ever before, a trend set to continue. This urbanisation poses problems for the future. With a growing population comes more strain on local resources, increased traffic and congestion, and environmental decline, including more pollution, loss of green spaces, and the formation of urban heat islands. Thankfully, many of these stressors can be alleviated with better management and procedures, particularly in the context of road infrastructure. For example, with better traffic data, signalling can be smoothed to reduce congestion, parking can be made easier, and streetlights can be dimmed in real time to match real-world road usage. However, obtaining this information on a citywide scale is prohibitively expensive due to the high costs of labour and materials associated with installing sensor hardware. This study investigated the viability of a streetlight-integrated sensor system to affordably obtain traffic and environmental information. This investigation was conducted in two stages: 1) the development of a hardware prototype, and 2) evaluation of an evolved prototype system.

In Stage 1 of the study, the development of the prototype sensor system was conducted over three design iterations. These iterations involved, in iteration 1, the live deployment of the prototype system in an urban setting to select and evaluate sensors for environmental monitoring, and in iterations 2 and 3, deployments on roads with live and controlled traffic to develop and test sensors for remote traffic detection. In the final iteration, which involved controlled passes of over 600 vehicle, 600 pedestrian, and 400 cyclist passes, the developed system that comprised passive-infrared motion detectors, lidar, and thermal sensors, could detect and count traffic from a streetlight-integrated configuration with 99%, 84%, and 70% accuracy, respectively. With the finalised sensor system design, Stage 1 showed that traffic and environmental sensing from a streetlight-integrated configuration was feasible and effective using on-board processing with commercially available and inexpensive components.

In Stage 2, financial and social assessments of the developed sensor system were conducted to evaluate its viability and value in a community. An evaluation tool for simulating streetlight installations was created to measure the effects of implementing the smart streetlight system. The evaluation showed that the on-demand traffic-adaptive dimming enabled by the smart streetlight system was able to reduce the electrical and maintenance costs of lighting installations. As a result, a 'smart' LED streetlight system was shown to outperform conventional always-on streetlight configurations in terms of financial value within a period of five to 12 years, depending on the installation's local traffic characteristics. A survey regarding the public acceptance of smart streetlight systems was also conducted and assessed the factors that influenced support of its applications. In particular, the Australia-wide survey investigated applications around road traffic improvement, streetlight dimming, and walkability, and quantified participants' support through willingness-to-pay assessments to enable each application. Community support of smart road applications was generally found to be positive and welcomed, especially in areas with a high dependence on personal road transport, and from participants adversely affected by spill light in their homes.

Overall, the findings of this study indicate that our cities, and roads in particular, can and should be made smarter. The technology currently exists and is becoming more affordable to allow communities of all sizes to implement smart streetlight systems for the betterment of city services, resource management, and civilian health and wellbeing. The sooner that these technologies are embraced, the sooner they can be adapted to the specific needs of the community and environment for a more sustainable and innovative future.

Item ID: 61145
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: commodity, Internet of Things, vehicle detection, sensors, smart cities, wireless sensor networks, streetlights, traffic
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Copyright Information: Copyright © 2018 Karl Andrew Mohring.
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One publication arising from this thesis is stored in ResearchOnline@JCU, at the time of processing. Please see the Related URLs field. The publication is:

Chapter 5: Mohring, Karl, Myers, Trina, and Atkinson, Ian (2018) Playing in traffic: an investigation of low-cost, non-invasive traffic sensors for street light luminaire deployments. International Journal of Grid and Utility Computing, 9 (4). pp. 333-344.

Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2019 05:27
FoR Codes: 08 INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES > 0805 Distributed Computing > 080503 Networking and Communications @ 20%
08 INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES > 0805 Distributed Computing > 080504 Ubiquitous Computing @ 40%
08 INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES > 0801 Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing > 080105 Expert Systems @ 40%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970108 Expanding Knowledge in the Information and Computing Sciences @ 100%
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