Lighting Controls, News, Outdoor

How LED lighting helped turn Melbourne around

Getting the right lighting on the roads was vital to making Melbourne the most liveable city in the world, according to the boss of the city’s industrial design team. He’ll be imparting his knowledge on city planners and lighting professionals at a seminar next month.

20 years ago, Melbourne’s central business district was thinning out with only 100 residents living in the area, the rest coming in from elsewhere for their 9-5 jobs and leaving the city centre reminiscent of a ghost town at night. To reverse the decline, Melbourne City council launched a strategy which, among other measures, included white road lighting.

The strategy appears to have paid off, with Melbourne being named world’s most liveable city by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Today, the CBD is a vibrant place with a 24-hour economy and 29,000 central city residents.

City planners and public lighting professionals can now learn from Melbourne’s success using white LED road lights. Ian Dryden, who leads Melbourne’s industrial design team, will present the story of Melbourne’s turn-around, and the vital role of its lighting strategy, at the Road Lighting 2015 conference in March.

Conference manager Godfrey Bridger of Strategic Lighting Partners says the conference is designed to assist city leaders and managers in New Zealand and Australia to develop their own strategies for the introduction of new LED technology for road lighting.

‘We have an exciting line-up of international speakers who will share their own first-hand experience of city-wide LED retrofits, as well as experts in internet-based lighting controls, green technology finance and insurance specialists, and road lighting researchers.’

He says cities are introducing white LED lighting mainly for reasons of energy and maintenance efficiency, since the new technology can halve road lighting operational costs. But other benefits are also emerging. 

LED road- and streetlights have the potential to become the grid that bears our ‘smart city’ technology of the future, allowing cars to automatically book parking tickets, garbage bins to signal when they need changing among many other potential functions that could make city infrastructure more efficient.

Speakers from other parts of the world will also be sharing their knowledge and experience of upgrading public lighting to LED.

Los Angeles completed its white LED retrofit last year – the first city in the world to do so – and experiences a similar city centre revival, according to another speaker.

The director of the City of Los Angeles’ Street Lighting Bureau, Ed Ebrahimian, says not only has the city halved its road lighting costs, it has also reduced its night time traffic accidents and street crime rates. 

Reviewing his experience in retrofitting 154,000 yellow HPS lights with LED, and now moving to ‘smart city’ internet controllability, Ed Ebrahimian will discuss what he would do differently if he was starting the whole process today.

Road Lighting 2015: Smart City Investment takes place at the Langham Hotel in Auckland on 9 and 10 March