'Smart’ streetlights have been installed in Essex offering the potential to monitor pollution, guide driverless vehicles, and create Wi-Fi hotspots.
Essex Highways has installed six of the new Philips DigiStreet LED streetlights in Chelmsford in a trial that could see thousands of the high-tech lights rolled out across the county.
The lights include an extra ‘universal sensor’ socket built into the lamp which will allow the attachment of devices such as sensors to collect data on air quality, traffic movements and pedestrian numbers.
The attachments could also potentially offer a number of other features using the power supply from the streetlight in the future.
‘We can be flexible and agile in adapting the devices for future needs – these could include providing Wi-Fi hotspots along key routes and monitoring pollution levels in real-time,’ said Cllr Ian Grundy, Essex County Council cabinet member for highways.
‘There could even be potential links to navigation for driverless cars to help them avoid traffic jams, smart traffic signals and even the ability to monitor the condition of roads and pavements.’
Commenting on the news, Cllr Kevin Bentley, deputy leader of Essex CC, said: ‘We are taking advantage of new technology to create the potential for Smart Cities which will use technology to improve the quality of life for our residents.
‘New technology allows us to offer residents more, for less, and supports our ambition to embrace digital to give our residents and businesses the quality of life and work they aspire to.
‘If the trial is successful, the options for these ‘smart’ streetlights are almost limitless going forward.’