Out of Step with the Times

Once, the phrase "as bright as day" sounded miraculous, but now it has become an integral attribute of comfortable life in a metropolis. Nowadays, it's rare to find places where life comes to a halt after dark. We are accustomed to well-lit streets and sidewalks, parks and squares, public areas, and entertainment centres. The bright light allows us to continue our daily activities and feel safe. Any malfunctioning streetlight becomes a source of danger and a subject of residents' complaints towards city authorities. Street lighting issues do indeed exist and are more complex than they seem. For a modern city, lighting expenses account for more than 40% of total energy consumption, which is a significant expenditure. These costs cannot endlessly grow along with the expansion of cities, so the need for savings is becoming evident. It's impossible to completely do away with lighting, but significant cost reductions can be achieved by using new technologies. Modern intelligent lighting systems are already successfully used in many cities around the world and have proven their cost-efficiency and environmental safety.

The traditional lighting system has some obvious drawbacks.

The first and main problem of outdated systems is the inefficiency of the management system - the lack of feedback from the equipment, the inability to keep statistical data on work and electricity consumption, as well as the inability to adapt to current conditions and changing lighting needs at different times of the day. The lights operate at the same power, turning on and off at the same time, without considering the time of sunrise and sunset, and seasonal changes in the lighting schedule can only be made locally. To service such a system, the city needs a staff of specialists who carry out visual inspections by driving around locations and identifying malfunctioning equipment. The use of human factors in such a maintenance method leads to uneven operation of the system - in some areas, lighting works properly, while in others, faulty lights can be neglected for months.

All these problems are solved by the Intelligent Lighting Control System.

The key distinction of such systems is their comprehensive approach to the use of intelligent technologies. This includes modern LED lights equipped with advanced controllers, as well as data transmission systems such as PLC (Power Line Communication) and LoRa (Long Range), which allow for the modernization of existing electrical networks without significant additional costs. These technologies provide the ability to create an improved, more efficient, and cost-effective street lighting system. They are capable not only of significantly reducing energy consumption but also of providing flexible lighting management according to current conditions and needs. System monitoring plays a key role in ensuring its effective operation, allowing technical specialists and city services to quickly respond to any malfunctions or changes. This ensures that the lighting system is maintained in a functional and working condition, minimizing downtime and improving overall safety and comfort in the city. Thanks to continuous monitoring and prompt maintenance, the city can efficiently manage resources, reduce costs, and improve the quality of urban infrastructure.

Global experience in implementing intelligent lighting control systems.

The example of Oslo, Norway, is an excellent illustration of how state funding and subsidy programs can promote the implementation of intelligent lighting systems. The complete modernization of the city's lighting system, including the installation of special controllers on 550,000 existing street lamps and their integration into a unified information structure controlled from a centralized monitoring centre, demonstrates the high efficiency of this approach. The use of PLC technology for data transmission through existing power lines eliminated the need for laying new cables. An adaptive control system that automatically adjusts the lighting level based on weather conditions and traffic intensity leads to optimized energy use. As a result, significant energy savings (more than 60% in the first year) and a reduction in maintenance costs by several million euros were achieved. Similar projects implemented in other European countries show impressive results not only economically but also ecologically by reducing CO2 emissions. Moreover, the improvement of public safety, the reduction in the number of accidents and incidents, increased tourist attractiveness, and the overall enhancement of city appearances underscore the additional advantages of such systems.

China's innovative approach to implementing intelligent lighting systems truly represents a significant breakthrough in urban infrastructure management. The use of motion sensors in conjunction with dimmable lights allows for a reduction in electricity consumption by more than 70%. In the absence of traffic, the system automatically reduces the brightness of the lighting to the minimum safe level. This solution is applicable in enclosed transport systems such as bridges, tunnels, and certain sections of highways, where it is possible to adjust the level of lighting based on the presence or absence of movement.

The growth in the use of intelligent lighting systems is being observed in many countries around the world, including Europe, Asia, and America. This is due not only to general trends towards energy saving but also to the active involvement of government programs aimed at subsidizing and financing both full and partial modernization of lighting systems. Such programs play an important role in updating urban infrastructure, making it more environmentally friendly, safe, and economically efficient.

Challenges of implementing intelligent lighting systems in Kazakhstan

The challenge faced by the municipal authorities of Almaty in modernizing the street lighting system is typical for many cities in Kazakhstan, which are faced with the task of updating outdated infrastructure. In our case, as specialists from the State Enterprise "Almaty City Lights" point out, a significant financial investment is required—more than 20 billion tenge—for a complete modernization of the lighting system.

One of the main problems is the condition of the existing power networks, which, as we have already mentioned, are outdated and in many cases require complete replacement. This is different from the situation in European countries where existing power networks could be used to modernize the lighting system. In Almaty, however, the city lighting infrastructure, laid more than 50 years ago, is in a critical condition and cannot be effectively integrated with modern technologies without a complete replacement. The second, and biggest problem, lies in the lack of options for choosing a specialized company for the development and implementation of an intelligent lighting control system. Often, this function is assigned to suppliers of LED equipment, and even worse, to construction companies that specialize only in replacing and laying electrical cables and installing poles. Such an approach can drastically affect the quality of the system and the overall result. In pursuit of immediate benefits, they are ready to promise the customer anything, without having a clue about the implementation of these promises. There are cases where LED equipment manufacturers participated in large projects for the automation of city lighting solely to sell their equipment, without having the competencies to automate the system. The results of such projects were usually obvious. This underscores the importance of having competent companies that specialize specifically in the automation of street lighting. Even major LED equipment manufacturers often engage such specialists to implement their projects to ensure successful integration and automation of the system.

Despite these obstacles, the prospect of modernization is important as it offers the opportunity to move towards more economical, reliable, and durable solutions. Investing in modern intelligent lighting systems can bring long-term benefits, both in terms of energy savings and in improving city infrastructure.