Cities are using internet-connected poles to support 5G access, energy efficiency, climate-related data collection and electric vehicle charging.
Cities’ demand for energy-efficient street lighting coupled with the expansion of urban digital infrastructure has opened the door for smart poles – internet-connected street lights that can support LED lighting, monitoring and detection technologies along with charging stations, information displays and artificial intelligence and internet of things applications.
For state and local governments, smart poles offer a seamless way to incorporate traffic and parking management, monitoring air and water quality and disaster management capabilities into their existing lighting infrastructure.
Later this year, New York City will upgrade its 1,816 LinkNYC kiosks with 5G cellular network technology by installing new smart poles. The 32-foot tall Link5G poles will feature space for cellular 5G transmitters and free public 4G LTE Wi-Fi so local residents and businesses will have access to both cellular 5G within 500 feet and 4G LTE within 1,000 feet of the poles. The new poles will have the kiosk’s display attached at street level and will still provide free Wi-Fi and digital calling, an emergency 911 button and USB chargers, along with maps, information on city services and display ads.
Fullerton, California, is working with NORESCO to upgrade 600 light poles to LED technology that will increase the fixtures’ lifespans by at least 20 years. A cellular networking platform for the streetlights will reduce maintenance and allow remote control of the lights. The network will be the foundation for projects supporting noise detection, air quality monitoring and 4G and 5G network capabilities that address the digital divide.
Last summer, Kansas City launched a pilot project to encourage electric vehicle adoption by building EV chargers the city’s light poles. The curbside chargers expand access for renters, multi-family building occupants and taxis that need access to charging infrastructure. The World Resources Institute, which is helping the city with electric vehicle-grid integration, released a comprehensive pole-mounted charging infrastructure guide to help other cities tackle similar EV infrastructure projects.
Last June, Coral Gables, Florida, was the first U.S. city to install an AI-powered smart, integrated pole. The nearly 10-foot high Ekin Spotter offers services like free public Wi-Fi, traffic and safety sensors, environmental sensors, computer vision and AI-based IoT edge analytics and alerts. The device has been integrated with the Coral Gables Smart City Hub, an open data platform that provides sensor data and real-time analytics to residents and city staff as well as s live video and analytics to the city’s community intelligence and emergency operations centers. The city plans to install two more smart poles in 2022.
The smart pole market is projected to expand at a CAGR of 15.7% between 2021 to 2031, according to Transparency Market Research.
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