LED lighting is fast becoming the norm in the road and urban landscapes of the UAE and the GCC at large, from colour-changing facades to LED-lit pedestrian tunnels, bridges and roads, both the private and public sectors are embracing the benefits of new lighting technology, and the government is actively promoting it.
Experts now believe that the UAE has reached the next level in the LED revolution: with an advanced electrical grid, a concern at government level for an interactive environment, people well-being and money to spend on energy-efficient technology, this dynamic nation could very well become the birthplace of the next smart city.
Here are five reasons why:
1. The understanding of the new network is already there
LED is becoming the standard specification for most public lighting projects in the UAE, and the government’s plan to upgrade all public lighting to LED has been underway since 2011. State-of-the-art luminaires such as the ModulLum and Teceo from LED streetlight and controls manufacturer Schréder have been rolled out on major streets, roads and pedestrian zones in the UAE.
With LED streetlights in place in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, there is no end to the possibilities these cities can now offer their citizens free Wi-Fi, access USBs to charge phones, CCTV surveillance or loudspeakers as part of a full integrated solution where lighting being one of the components.
2. The UAE wants to be smart
‘The UAE wants to be the first country in the region to have smart cities,’ says Karim Boutaour, regional strategic leader at Schréder. ‘The municipalities have launched a number of initiatives and integrated smart technology into their roadmaps for 2020. They don’t want it to just be a gimmick – they really want to make their cities integrated, sustainable, digital and smart.’
Dubai’s Smart City Initiative lists ‘smart utilities’ and ‘smart urban infrastructure’ as part of its city development plan, all of which can be managed by the network of LED streetlights that are continuously expanding.
Other parts of the Middle East are following, with Doha carrying out a similar growth plan for Qatar. The challenges of having the highest ecological footprint and highest carbon emission per capita in the world, is in itself a drive not only to adopt LED but implement advanced control system to further reduce energy consumption. ‘It’s all part of the vision of having integrated cities that are sustainable and reducing carbon foot print while providing a more enhanced and safe environments, says Boutaour.
3. The UAE’s city planners get controls
Now that LEDs have been widely accepted and specified, the next phase of the growth plan in most GCC countries is to install smart controls and integrated solutions to further reduce energy consumption and integrate it as part of their Smart Cities development. ‘Between 2011 and 2015, a number of cities across the GCC have started transition to LED. For those cities that have gone through the learning curve of adapting to LED, they are now looking at the smart city approach and part of that is the application of controls,’ says Boutaour.
A growing concern for the environment means controls is high on the agenda for city planners. Incandescent light sources have already been banned for indoor use in the Emirates, and the authorities are aware of the benefits of being able to dim or switch off streetlights.
Schréder, which has already supplied the Owlet Nightshift control system for 18,000 LED luminaires in California, is now dealing with requests from the Middle East. ‘The Owlet system controls all the light fittings in the city and reduces energy consumption by managing light intensity using dimming features.’ says Boutaour.
4. The UAE wants to keep enhancing wellbeing and safety
One of the key performance indicators of the UAE’s plan for its cities is safety. The government wants to provide a safe environment for its citizens, and one way to go about that is with CCTV cameras which can be integrated into existing LED streetlights to promote a safe environment and wellbeing.
‘Another safety concern that the UAE is trying to tackle is pollution occurring when temperatures are high, and smart streetlight’s sensors can help in warn citizens of health hazards such as heat index, dust level and high humidity levels,’ Boutaour adds.
5. The technology is now available
Although some of the benefits of connected street lighting might still sound futuristic, the technology has already been created. Schréder’s newly launched Shuffle system has been designed to make people feel connected with the living spaces.
More than just a lighting column, the Shuffle can integrate control systems, loudspeakers, surveillance cameras and hotspots. The safety, comfort and the sense of wellbeing provided by the Shuffle invites people to enjoy public areas both by day and by night.
The Shuffle is an affordable, complete solution that requires very low maintenance. Providing multiple requirements in a single column minimises the material needed in spaces and lowers the carbon footprint of an installation.
The Shuffle can help cities and privately-owned sites achieve their goals by providing a range of services to benefit municipalities, urban planners, site managers, service providers and residents.
Although the Shuffle has only just been launched, Schréder has begun to see great interest in the Middle East for this type of solution.
It’s just one example of how new technology can help create smart cities that the rest of the world will envy. ‘The technology is available,’ says Boutaour. ‘Now it’s all about implementation and rolling out the plan.’
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