Chicago plans major transition to outdoor LED lighting

Upwards of 350,000 outdoor lights could be retrofitted to LED technology in Chicago, IL, with the scope of the project covering roadway to park lighting.

Chicago plans major transition to outdoor LED lighting
Chicago plans major transition to outdoor LED lighting

Upwards of 350,000 outdoor lights could be retrofitted to LED technology in Chicago, IL, with the scope of the project covering roadway to park lighting.

The city of Chicago, IL has announced a Smart Lighting Project with the goal of converting the bulk of the city's outdoor lighting to energy-efficient LED sources. The city will also contemplate networked lighting with a central management system and possibly the use of a street light deployment to extend its fiberoptic network, enabling the city to offer new services. Chicago Infrastructure Trust (CIT) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to parties that might participate in the project with responses due by November 15.

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Chicago has been slow to move toward LED technology relative to other major cities. For example, the city of Los Angeles, CA has already deployed more than 140,000 LED street lights and is actively installing wireless network capabilities in that system.

Chicago plans major transition to outdoor LED lightingChicago plans major transition to outdoor LED lighting

Still, the Chicago project could prove to be among the largest solid-state lighting (SSL) retrofits undertaken around the globe. The CIT said the outdoor lighting inventory totals 348,500 luminaires including street, alley, viaduct, pathway, and lake-front settings and involving both the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District. Those agencies are charged with installing and maintaining their own lighting.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel created the Smart Lighting Project to both reduce maintenance and electrical costs, and also to contemplate symbiotic networked services that could serve the citizens and help pay for the giant project. The city has said there will be no additional taxpayer burden associated with the project.

"By improving lighting throughout the City of Chicago, we will continue to find more cost-efficient ways to operate and provide longer-lasting services for city residents," said Emanuel. "In addition, ensuring that our neighborhood streets and parks are appropriately lit creates better living environments for our residents."

The mayor said the project will allow the public sector to find a way to partner with private sector businesses that improve services and generate new revenue. "This project provides the Infrastructure Trust with an opportunity to partner with the City to modernize lighting in our neighborhoods, while delivering cost and energy efficiencies to the City," said CIT Executive Director Leslie Darling.

Specifically, the street light project is hoped to enable a network infrastructure that can be used to deliver services unrelated to outdoor lighting. In San Diego, CA, for example, a GE Lighting project is expected to serve as the backbone for smart parking services and other yet-to-be-determined services.

The RFI document says that in addition to more efficient outdoor lighting, the existing city and park infrastructure could enable services in the safety and quality-of-life areas. And the RFI says it will evaluate using the street light project as a way to expand its fiberoptic network both for street light control and to expands digital services in the city.

The Smart Street Lighting RFI is easily accessible on the CIT website.

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