How smart lighting is introduced in Russia and how long it will take

    In most Russian cities, especially in residential areas, street lighting leaves much to be desired. On the sidewalks it is always dark, and under the lanterns the colors of objects are distorted beyond recognition. From a technical point of view, smart lighting can solve this problem. The intensity of the light varies depending on whether there is someone on this part of the road, and the light itself is obtained close to daylight. Another plus is the savings for the city up to 60%. But, of course, the main difficulties begin with the implementation of systems in real urban conditions.

    We talked with Vitaly Bogdanov from the company “Light Technologies”, one of the Russian developers of intelligent lighting. He spoke about the company's pilot projects in Moscow and Vladimir; how to build a smart city on the basis of street lamps and what protocols and principles underlie intelligent lighting systems.

    Interviewer: Sergey Karpov

    Respondent: Vitaly Bogdanov

    What communication protocols are best suited to create the infrastructure of a smart city?

    PLC and old protocols are a dead end. Of course, we need to talk about one of the protocols for the Internet of things: LoRaWAN or NB-IoT.

    Using the example of smart lighting's own developments, we have seen that the protocol should be open and standard; carry the ability to connect devices and services from different manufacturers. There should also be parties interested in the development of such networks - for example, telecom operators that already have a ready infrastructure.

    Why are old protocols a dead end?

    They do not provide scaling and do not allow connecting seamlessly the services of a smart city. It turns out that for us services will be closed only on the control of lighting, and this is only one of the urban systems.

    What is the difference between LoRaWAN and NarrowBand IoT?

    The difference is in which database the protocol is created. NB is made on the basis of 5G, which is closer to the telecom. LoRaWAN uses a method similar to that used for many years in military and space communications. It has a small bandwidth, but a very long range. Due to this, it turns out quite cheap infrastructure. But NB can be built on the basis of cellular infrastructure, so it also has a good chance of success.

    Applied to smart lighting, the problem can be solved by both protocols. The choice depends on which telecom structure is built in the city. Now in different cities, projects are being developed for both NB-IoT and LoRaWAN. In terms of functionality, these solutions are close, and at the level of the application interface they can even be combined. I think both will develop. And maybe integrate at the API level.

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    How do you see the integration of smart lighting into the existing infrastructure of cities?

    This issue is partially resolved. For example, in Moscow there is an intelligent street lighting control system developed under the auspices of the Mossvet. But Light Technologies wants to go further and build infrastructure for the Internet of Things on this base. In other words, when we build a lamp management structure, other services can be connected to it. And outdoor lighting turns into a universal "skeleton" for a smart city. Because outdoor lamps are everywhere, always connected to electricity, and based on them it is easy to create a network that will unite the entire city.

    To do this, you need to negotiate with the authorities and telecom companies?

    Yes, they are mandatory participants in the process.

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    You mentioned that you get ideas from world leaders such as Philips and Zumtobel. Tell us what solutions you find most successful and why?

    Philips is known to all as a consumer electronics company. But in fact, she is a world leader in the world. There is a special division of Philips Lighting, which this year was renamed Signify. It is moving from the production of devices to the development of platforms and has set itself the goal of world leadership in the number of connected IoT users. Signify is trying to go beyond the lighting market, where margins have fallen in recent years, and move on to a new, more sustainable business model. On the other hand, Philips creates used drivers, protocols and controllers - it gives “hardware”, with the help of which manufacturers are included in a ready-made platform; expands and scales it. These are also steps to a standardized Internet of things based on smart light.

    Zumtobel is a more conservative company, and it focuses on the quality of light: it examines the effect of light on a person, looking for the most comfortable options. She made it her competitive advantage.

    We use the experience of both companies: we also focus on quality and create our own solutions for IoT.

    What protocols do these two companies use for their smart lighting projects?

    They work differently in different applications. So, Philips is closer to GSM solutions and NB-IoT. Zumtobel uses primarily ZibBee and Z-Wave, although they focus more on indoor lighting.

    Are you familiar with large-scale projects of these companies?

    Philips has a number of major projects in the United States. Europe is more conservative, and in the US, Los Angeles and New York are almost completely translated into smart GSM-based lighting. Then, probably, it will go to the NarrowBand. The Middle East is also one of the growth points in countries and cities that are susceptible to innovation. At the project level, Kazakhstan is also being considered. If we talk about Russia, then there is its own specifics, while Philips and similar large-scale projects in the field of smart lighting do not exist. There are such projects at “Rostec” and “Light Technologies”.

    Let's talk about your practice. Tell us about the project in the city of Vladimir, in which you used your equipment.

    We covered the whole of Vladimir and several cities of the Vladimir region. For us, this is an image project. First of all, we wanted to give the city high-quality lighting: to increase the level of illumination, to make street light even and comfortable. And the savings were in second place, although it is very important for energy service contracts. And only after we showed that we can work qualitatively “in the base”, we began to engage in the installation of elements of intelligent lighting. We will work on this in the Vladimir region; We are working on projects for Ivanov, Lipetsk, Perm, Moscow - the market is ripe for this.

    How much the city managed to save on lighting thanks to your devices?

    Approximate figures - 60%. For the city it is tens of millions of rubles annually. This is our actual savings in energy service projects implemented.

    How much better were the streets covered? Did you take measurements?

    Of course, measurements are always made in the process of retrofitting. In different parts of the city, the level of illumination increased from 20 to 40%; The focus was on pedestrian crossings.

    Do you have separate solutions for pedestrian crossings and motorways?

    Yes, of course: they are distinguished by the optics of lamps and the direction of light.

    And what is the difference between devices for intelligent lighting from ordinary ones?

    There are few differences: controlled power supply, controller and antenna. There are more differences at the level of the lighting scheme itself, the “brains”. It makes no sense to put everything in the lamp - it is much more important to build the correct control of the device. And a separate issue - the integration of smart lighting in the existing infrastructure.

    Do you create your own software to integrate smart lighting systems? Or work on the basis of ready-made solutions?

    We develop our software, but each time we solve the question: will it be the main one, or will we integrate it into the system existing in the city. For example, in Moscow there is already a control system of hundreds of thousands of lamps, and in this case it is important not to replace it. And in smaller cities, where we create a scheme from scratch, our software and our interface can be supporting.

    How is quality control carried out in your company?

    Our quality control is thorough, multistage. 100% of outdoor lighting fixtures undergo annealing for eight hours. And smart fixtures also collect information about the operation of each device online, so we can monitor in real time how they work. If something fails, we provide emergency service; we can take preventive measures when some indicators exceed the norm.

    The Internet of Things conference , where you participate as a speaker, will host a discussion about effective technologies for the cities of the future. What is your opinion: when it comes to the large-scale implementation of smart lighting projects in Russia?

    Now in several cities in Russia they are starting to think about pilot projects in this area. St. Petersburg and Moscow are ready; in Moscow there is the Lublin quarter, in St. Petersburg there is also a local project of a smart city. Now these cities are at the stage of testing solutions that will later be applied throughout the metropolis. After a year or two, mass implementation of the IoT protocols will begin in these cities. The province traditionally lags behind the capitals in technical terms by 2-3 years. So we expect a breakthrough in the IoT market in the near future.

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