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What is smart public lighting and what are its benefits?

Arthur C. Clarke, author of science fiction classic “2001: A Space Odyssey”, once said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” With AI-powered “brains” that enable them to “talk” to each other – and to remote control centers – smart street lighting systems might just fit the bill. Andi if they integrate LED street lighting solutions, the ‘magic’ effect is even stronger.

But exactly what are smart street lights, also called smart public lights? For starters, smart public lights are aware of their surroundings and adjust the light based on data they collect from sensors. By being able to “understand” real-time data, intelligent street lighting can, for example, turn itself on and off based on ambient light conditions. Just like “magic”.


There are many advantages to using smart public light systems, including:

  • Improving the quality of public illumination while guaranteeing efficiency, increased levels of safety in public spaces and cost savings.
  • By using less energy vs conventional public illumination systems – smart LED lights curb CO₂ emissions and can function for up to 100,000 hours, drastically reducing replacement and maintenance costs.
  • By being connected to each other and to central control systems, smart public lighting enables constant remote monitoring and precise diagnostics of the intensity, profile and critical issues affecting real-time energy consumption levels, which allows local institutions to fine-tune lighting based on actual needs;
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  • By allowing remote-monitoring and control, intelligent illumination systems can be used to enable additional services which may become available in future, such as video surveillance for public security, WiFi connectivity and environmental and territorial monitoring.


Smart public lighting is a key element to foster more sustainable, livable cities. By being more energy efficient than conventional alternatives, smart public lighting is not only good for the environment, but also for public authorities’ purses - and, ultimately, for taxpayers' wallets, too.

What are the benefits of smart street lighting?

Public lighting mostly refers to streetlights, which are available in a number of forms, from modern, energy efficient street lights to traditional lamp posts and wall lights, to cutting-edge, low visual impact units. 


Here are a few reasons why public lighting infrastructure is important:


  • Enhanced road safety. Almost 50% of fatal car accidents happen at night, according to the United States’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Low visibility on dark streets is one of the causes.
  • Reduced crime. Law enforcement officials and city governments have been studying the links between street lighting and crime for decades. Well-lit streets make people feel safer and are likely to deter crime.
  • Increased productivity. Public lighting makes it easier for people to return to their homes from their workplace at any time of day or night.
  • Sense of community. New lighting is an effective way for municipal governments to demonstrate their commitment to communities. Well-lit streets create a sense of pride and well being.
  • Urban renewal. Enel X installed 628 new smart lighting points along a 14 kilometer bike path in São Paulo, Brazil as part of the Novo Rio Pinheiros redevelopment of an adjacent area aimed at encouraging people to use the river’s banks.


City governments have a wide range of energy-efficient and flexible options for street lighting that improves public safety. But the most sustainable solutions for public lighting are those that make use of LED technology, which offers many benefits in terms of energy efficiency, effectiveness and durability.

Enel X's Public Lighting

What are the benefits of LED street lighting?

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LED street lights offer many advantages. For starters, they are sustainable and cost-efficient because they last longer and consume less energy than conventional equivalents such as incandescent, halogen or fluorescent lights.

LED city lights can help cities become more sustainable by shrinking their carbon footprint thanks to lower energy consumption. Furthermore, LED lighting systems can be integrated with smart technologies (see previous section on Smart Public Lighting) in order to cut costs, save energy, and make public lighting infrastructure more versatile, flexible and efficient.

LEDs are energy efficient because they give off very little heat, so they require far less power to emit the same amount of light as their conventional equivalents. In comparison, incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat and fluorescent lights release about 80% of their energy as heat. Efficient lighting with LED technology guarantees energy savings above 65%  thanks to the use of next-gen lighting fixtures which deliver superior performance in lighting efficiency.

This energy efficiency is one of the leading benefits of LED street lighting and led public lighting, but there are many more. Here are some others:


  • Fewer emissions. One of the key advantages of LED street lights is that, by consuming far less energy than conventional equivalents, they generate fewer emissions. In the US alone, replacing outdoor lighting with LED lighting can reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of taking 8.5 million cars off the road for a year, according to the World Bank.
  • Longer lifespan. Another advantage offered by LED street lights is their increased durability, as they last much longer than their conventional counterparts. For example, LED bulbs can last three to five times longer than fluorescent lights and 30 times longer than incandescent ones.
  • High color rendering. The high color rendering of LED street lights is close to natural light and presents colors more realistically. This helps drivers and pedestrians better identify objects at night, improving traffic safety and road conditions.
  • Quick start. Incandescent lamps take about 0.1 to 0.2 seconds to light up. Gas discharge lamps, such as high-pressure sodium lamps and metal halide lamps, take anywhere from tens of seconds to 10 minutes to reach a stable light output. After being turned off, they take 3-6 minutes to cool down before restarting. In contrast, LED lights only take tens of nanoseconds to start up, there is no waiting time to restart and they can work normally in a continuous on/off state.

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