Signify in talks with “real time urban data” firm about smartening cities through intelligent streetlights

Sept. 28, 2022
If the two companies agree to work together, they would pilot their combined technologies in Albany to improve parking, traffic, and crowd detection, possibly using AI.

Signify is talking to a French sensor and data analysis outfit about forming a partnership that would enhance the ability of streetlights to facilitate urban activities such as traffic flow, cycling, parking, and crowd detection in North America.

If Signify and Montreuil-based Upciti reach an agreement, then the city of Albany, N.Y. would most likely serve as the pilot run. Albany recently converted about 11,000 streetlights to Signify LED models. The city would outfit at least some of those units with Upciti sensors and gather what Upciti refers to as “real time urban data.”

Upciti analyzes images through a mix of what it refers to as artificial intelligence (AI), IoT/edge computing, and image detection technology.

It’s unclear how much AI is actually involved. But by pairing the Upciti hardware and software with Signify’s Interact brand of internet-connected lighting, Albany and other users would gain “smart city” advantages.

“Streetlighting is not just for illuminating roads — the latest technology can help us create a more safe and equitable community,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “We have already reduced energy and carbon emissions and have saved millions in operating costs. We intend to continue utilizing city-wide infrastructure, so we can ensure a bright future for generations to come.”

Albany partnered with Signify on smart streetlighting over two years ago, through the broader Smart Street Lighting NY program begun in 2018 and funded by New York State’s New York Power Authority (NYPA).

Connected LED streetlighting plays an important role in building smart city infrastructure,” said NYPA director of projects Jesse Scott. “An early adopter, the City of Albany has realized tremendous energy and operational savings. We are thrilled with the prospect of piloting the sensor solution in Albany, so it can bring even more value for the city and residents. It will enable departments, from the parking authority to city planning, to make data-driven decisions to improve public safety, support future planning, and improve communication infrastructure in disadvantaged communities.”

City managers would use an Interact computer dashboard to pull together and visualize data that would then provide insights on how to manage safety, traffic, noise, parking, and the like.

We are excited about the prospect of establishing a partnership with Signify and deploying our joint solution in Albany,” said Upciti president Jean-Baptiste Poljak. The integration of our edge computing image-analysis sensors with Signifys Interact system will enable the city and others across North America to leverage their streetlighting infrastructure to deliver new services and improve citizen quality of life while protecting their privacy.”

All involved parties clearly have high hopes for the Signify/Upciti alliance, as they have made the unusual move of announcing the potential partnership before actually completing it.

If they do, Signify will be casting its eyes beyond Albany.

With the U.S. governments historic, $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, it has never been a more opportune time for cities to leverage their streetlighting infrastructure, to tackle some of their greatest challenges such as transportation, public safety, and sustainability,” said Martin Stephenson, Signify’s head of North American Systems & Services and president of Signify Canada. Cities can reap immediate value from adding IoT and sensor technology, while laying the foundation for a larger transformation journey.”

LEDs Magazine will keep an eye on whether the two companies sign the dotted line.

Read more about smart streetlight projects:

Telensa demonstrates TALQ interoperability on Georgia street lights

Outdoor SSL news: Small towns commit to connected LED fixtures

Outdoor SSL news: Urban Control cellular, Dhyan TALQ, and Ameresco

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

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About the Author

Mark Halper | Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

Mark Halper is a freelance business, technology, and science journalist who covers everything from media moguls to subatomic particles. Halper has written from locations around the world for TIME Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, CBS, Wired, and many others. A US citizen living in Britain, he cut his journalism teeth cutting and pasting copy for an English-language daily newspaper in Mexico City. Halper has a BA in history from Cornell University.