Rhode Island capital taps Silver Spring wireless mesh service for smart LED street light controls

Aug. 17, 2016
Providence is expected to be the first of several implementations across the state to leverage IoT systems for lighting and other city operations. The city owns the Cree lights but pays a yearly network and management fee.

Providence is expected to be the first of several implementations across the state to leverage IoT systems for lighting and other city operations. The city owns the Cree lights but pays a yearly network and management fee.

The city of Providence, RI is deploying a wireless mesh system from Silver Spring Networks to control about 17,000 new LED smart street lights, the first in what is expected to be a number of similar implementations across the state.

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Providence will use Silver Spring's Starfish mesh system to help intelligently schedule and control lighting and to better monitor light performance and outages, and reduce energy consumption. It could also in the future use the intelligent infrastructure for other city operations such as parking, traffic, and pollution control.

Providence could eventually use the smart lighting control network to serve other city operations, such as traffic and road management. (Source: Oliver Gartmann via Flickr.)

Under the deal, Providence owns and operates the lights. It pays San Jose, CA-based Silver Spring a yearly service fee for the use, maintenance, and upkeep of the control network, which Silver Spring owns.

The city late last year purchased the existing high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights from utility National Grid, and is now replacing them with LED luminaires from Cree, Silver Spring told LEDs Magazine. City contractors are outfitting the hardware with controllers from Cimcon Lighting, which physically sit on the luminaires and contain radio chips, light sensors, GPS, energy monitors, and other electronics.

City operators can program or command individual smart street lights to turn on and off or brighten or dim by using Silver Spring's web-based Streetlight.Vision 6.0 (SLV6) management and control software. Silver Spring did not reveal how much it is charging for the use of the Starfish mesh network and the SLV6 software. It typically charges a per device, per year fee. The mesh network is based on the IEEE 802.15.4g standard, also known as Wi-SUN for wireless smart utility network. Lillington, NC-based lighting consultant LightSmart is helping to design and implement it.

The wireless system works as a cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT) scheme, as instructions travel from Providence to Silver Spring data centers in San Diego and Las Vegas and return to the lights.

Silver Spring sends updates of firmware and software remotely from its network operations centers in Chicago and San Jose.

“Providence is utilizing cutting-edge technology and innovation to improve service and infrastructure throughout the city,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “Silver Spring Networks’ IoT expansion will enhance the way people interact with their communities, and we are proud to be part of that effort.”

As is often the case with Silver Spring installations, the vendor envisions the city eventually leveraging the lighting-based wireless information network to help run other city operations such as traffic, parking, pollution controls and management of water, gas, and electricity.

The Providence deal is the first of what Silver Spring expects to be several implementations across the state of Rhode Island. Silver Spring and LightSmart are together working with a group called the Partnership for Rhode Island Streetlight Management (PRISM), which represent 26 communities with about 63,000 street lights.

In a similar approach to the market, Silver Spring hopes to use a recent smart lighting project with the Irish town of Crossmolina as an incubator to similar jobs across the region.

Silver Spring is also deploying wireless mesh lighting installations in Copenhagen, Glasgow, London, Bristol (England), Chicago, San Antonio, San Jose, and in Kolkata, India among others.

The company recently moved its headquarters from Redwood City, CA to San Jose.

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

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.