The City of San Jose is about to find out. Initial proposals are due November 30 for upgrading with LEDs streetlights in this northern California city of 1.1 million residents.
It sounds like a dream project for the Internet of Things, especially given its location in the heart of Silicon Valley. Indeed on August 26, 40 representatives of lighting, telecommunications, technology, energy and other companies attended an initial conference on the city’s request for proposals issued August 3.
But there’s a catch: You have to create your own return-on-investment for the project.
San Jose upgraded to LEDs about a third of its streetlights — some 23,000 units — over the last several years, using grants and demonstration projects. But it lacks the estimated $32 million it could cost to upgrade the remaining 40,000 lights, so it’s looking for creative partners.
The winning partners could get almost anything within reason from access to lease or develop a piece of city land to their name on a city playground or community center. Tech companies could mount IoT products on the poles as long as they comply with electric requirements of the local utility.
Given a streetlight has access to power and commands a safe position “10 meters above ground on average…it’s an incredibly powerful piece of real estate,” said Rick Freeman, general manager of an intelligent cities group for GE Lighting, speaking at a conference here recently.
GE has pilots for its streetlight products in San Diego and Jacksonville, Florida, but 95% of U.S. roadways still use old lighting technology, Freeman said. Beyond carrying LEDs, streetlights can get outfitted with cameras, small base stations for a host of different cellular and IoT networks and wide variety of sensors to measure anything from audio to air quality, he added.
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