Power Generation

High-tech streetlights come to Jacksonville


Jacksonville, Florida, recently decided to install "smart" lights to replace the city's traditional streetlights. According to the Jacksonville Business Journal, the community is now in the process of receiving 50 LED data-collecting streetlamps. They will primarily be stationed in downtown Jacksonville and the immediate surrounding residential neighborhoods. 

Smart lights will capture data 
With the installation of these appliances, Jacksonville will be the the first city on the East Coast to implement smart lighting technology, the Business Journal explained. The only other city in the world that is currently operating with these types of streetlights is San Diego, California. Jacksonville's mayor, Alvin Brown, hopes these new lights will modernize Jacksonville and help secure it a reputation as an innovative, cutting-edge city. The lights are being installed at no cost, since local government is working with General Electric as a pilot city for this brand new technology. GE's Predix software will be used to collect the data and provide it to the city, explained the Business Journal. 

News 4 JAX reported that, in addition to lighting the Floridian city's streets, these lamps will be able to collect data. The lights come equipped with both wireless transmitters and image sensors. These features will largely be used to help identify open parking spaces that are available in Jacksonville's busy downtown area. The source noted that, if the lights seem to work efficiently, local officials would like to create an app where visitors can look at a real-time map of available parking spots across the city. Notably, the Business Journal reported that this is not Jacksonville's first attempt to secure a smart parking program. The city unsuccessfully contracted with parking app Streetline during 2013 and 2014. 

Jacksonville hopes to be on the cutting edge of technology with its new smart technology streetlights. Jacksonville hopes to be on the cutting edge of technology with its new smart technology streetlights.

Issues and concerns arise over pilot program 
Some citizens have concerns about privacy and safety issues that come along with data-collecting streetlights. The Business Journal explained that many residents find it problematic that they will constantly be captured on video, while others believe drivers will use the eventual parking app while they are behind the wheel, potentially increasing accidents. One of the largest questions that has been raised is who the data actually belongs to. The source noted that while GE stated that the data belonged to Jacksonville, a city spokesman said that the information is actually proprietary to GE Lighting. City officials can request the data for internal use. 

"The data collected will be analyzed."

The lights, which are expected to be completely installed in time for summer, have not yet been assigned to specific locations. News 4 JAX explained that they will stay in the city for at least 45 days but no longer than six months. Whatever data the lights collect will be analyzed at the end of their installation by GE. If Jacksonville officials decide to make smart lighting technology a permanent fixture for the city, the city will be responsible for post-pilot installation costs, a price that has yet to released.