Minden Economic Development Director Phillip Smart has recently found an interesting opportunity for the City of Minden in the form of Smart Street Light Controller Produced by the company Ubicquia.
The base model of these streetlight controllers allows for more dynamic control over the use of the city’s streetlights, such as being able to dim lights in low priority areas to use less energy. There are other models that allow for a wider range of utility, such as allowing the City to transmit public wifi in certain areas as well as keeping tabs on traffic and accidents.
The adoption of these street lights has yet to be formally adopted by the City, but Smart wanted to share with the citizens why he thinks investing in these smart street lights would be a positive step forward for Minden.
“It’s definitely appealing because it could save the city and citizens money, and that money could be used somewhere else. Not only could it create revenue, but would also give luxuries to our citizens that we don’t currently have,” said Smart.
Smart states that with the streetlights inevitably needing replacement, they could spend slightly more to have these street smart lights while opening up potential revenue streams for the city.
“You gotta replace these dusk till dawn’s anyways whenever they go out. So let’s say they’re 30$, these are 80$. So you’re going to make a 50$ investment on each one, but you’ll get your return over and over throughout the years,” said Smart.
One way the city could see a return on its investment is by being able to control and reduce the amount of energy that the lights are using. “Instead of having the streetlight at 100% at night at 1 oclock or 2 oclock in the morning, you can turn it down to 75 or 50% so it’s not using as much electricity. So it actually leaves you in control of how much money you want to save,” said Smart. “It all depends on what area it is in and how well it needs to be lit.”
Some models of the streetlights also come with cameras equipped, so they could be put in high traffic areas like Downtown Minden to catch parking violations as well as collisions and can even then alert the local authorities so they could issue citations. Some models can even issue citations automatically, but that would be something the City would have to decide to opt in for.
“If you have parking issues and people are violating those parking spots. You can have it sense whenever a car is parked there, and it can automatically notify a police officer to patrol that area or issue a citation,” said Smart.
Furthermore, some models can allow for the city to transmit WiFi, and cellular service providers could lease use of these street lights as a signal booster for carriers of their service.
“AT&T and Sprint, companies like that, can actually lease your pole from the city that owns to poll. Ruston for example, is getting $250 for each pole that they allow a cell phone company to use.”
All of these are different methods that the city could use to generate revenue from these Smart Street Light Controllers if they chose to invest in them. Beyond potential revenue, the Smart Streetlights can also provide other utility to the city.
As mentioned earlier, some models are equipped with a WiFi transmitter that would allow the City to establish WiFi zones in parks and other areas for its citizens .
“Normally, for you to get WiFi, you have to get this big fat pole. It’s not on your street light, it’s a pole that is next to it, and those run you about 18,000 dollars a piece,” said Smart.
“With their technology, all you need is a regular street light. Their product attaches onto the pole, and through this they’re able to give you public wifi, and allow you to have access to that.”
It also has the potential for compatibility with 911 dispatch, and would allow them tools to better indicate to first responders where they need to go when responding to emergency calls.
“I was a Sheriff Deputy for Bienville Parish, so I know that house numbers are hard to see from the street at night. This technology can be used with 911 dispatch where they can make the light outside the house flash and keep flashing until someone gets there,” said Smart. “You can’t put a price on that, saving someone’s life.”
Part of the reason Smart is sharing this information is to encourage the citizens of Minden to call their City Council Members and let them know what they think about this opportunity.
There are multiple models available, from ones that are just simply the street light controllers and nothing more, to the ones with the cameras, sensors, and WiFi transmitters, so there is room to express which feature’s one thinks would be beneficial for the city and which ones wouldn’t.
I think if we want to attract people who are going to invest in Minden, then Minden needs to invest in itself,” said Smart.