IDC’s new NetLight system of wireless integrated lighting controllers makes street lighting far more energy efficient, flexible, and interactive. The system combines the latest intelligent lighting controls with wireless connectivity, and a remote web browser, to delivery substantial savings in all aspects of street lighting, from initial design to installation, commissioning, energy usage and ongoing maintenance.
With energy reduction paramount, the NetLight web browser enables users – local councils, shopping centres, car park operators - to decide where, when and how much energy is required for each street lamp. The flexibility of the NetLight scheduler, with granular control down to each lamp, and the ability to view responses in near to real time, enables response- driven strategies to be developed and refined based on population densities, traffic levels, environmental conditions, social events, and with safety and security needs taken into account.
The configuration manager facility in NetLight enables street lamps to be grouped conveniently into multi level geographical areas for energy monitoring, selective control and dimming, operational performance and diagnostics. The configuration manager is complemented by a copy and paste facility that allows easy set up of lamps and zones with dashboards, graphs and tables.
At the heart of the NetLight system are low cost, plug-in controllers that offer the key advantage of retrofitting to existing street lamps. They replace conventional light sensors, providing the direct facility for wiring to industry standard ballasts and lamps. Importantly for the user, no commissioning is required with NetLight. Each controller has a unique 64 bit address which is recognised by the NetLight server. Once installed and powered-up, the controller automatically connects to the wireless network and self configures itself for operation.
The NetLight controller is packed with features for the ultimate in control and energy reduction. It includes a microchip with real time clock and memory for data logging, and offers additional features such as smart energy metering, temperature monitoring and dimming control, as well as integrating a light sensor and a relay.
Although the controllers offer the flexibility to be individually configurable and to operate independently, they are all wireless-enabled and communicate with each other, passing on information over hundreds of street lamps, to an Area Hub. The wireless signal can propagate over several hundred meters in direct line of sight and is sufficient to cover several street lamps, ensuring there is always at least one connection available to connect to the wireless network. The wireless signal strength from each controller is low power and very safe, requiring only a hundredth of that of a mobile phone, with message duration – literally - in ‘less than the blink of an eye’.
As added safeguards, message encryption for high security is provided, using 128 Bit AES algorithms, and all the wireless messages have in built error checking, destination acknowledgement or retransmission; and the system has the ability to re-route messages via other street lamps in the event of an obstruction or lamp failure.
If, for any reason, the wireless network is not available, the lamps operate to a default cycle preloaded into the NetLight microchip memory, switching and dimming using the internal light sensor and real time clock.
In addition to its flexibility and energy saving features, NetLight also scores highly in terms of transparency – providing a number of key benefits for operations and maintenance departments. First, the system’s web browser has been designed for access and viewing on a smart phone, so engineers do not need to spend time at a PC. Second, street lamps can be viewed in real time using a map viewer, with the ability to ‘drill down’ and interrogate each lamp. Third, comprehensive diagnostics provide real time data on hours used, status and power consumption. Fourth and final, text and emails provide automatic updates for lamps failed, power loss and communications status.
IDC is supporting the NetLight system with a number of options. These include barcoding of each streetlamp and referencing its position using a smart phone with integral barcode reader and GPS. Some councils already use barcodes as a reference for lamp posts, so IDC is intending to provide a barcode with each NetLight controller, containing the unique mac address of the controller microchip. With this arrangement, the installer will fit the barcode to the lamp post, probably inside the terminal cover plate at the base of the lamp.
The second element in the barcode system is a mobile application for smartphones, which is being developed by IDC. The mobile application will allow the barcode to be read, and will then take a GPS location of the lamp post. The details can then be uploaded to the NetLight server. This will automatically locate the GPS position of the street lamp on the map viewer with its reference number mac address.