Lighting and Mobility Projects in Philadelphia

An LED Upgrade and Mobility Study with CIMCON NearSky are Recent Decisions

August 28 2019 - Philadelphia has a long history when it comes to streetlights. Benjamin Franklin introduced the first streetlights in the United States in Philadelphia back in 1757. More recently, Philadelphia has made headlines in the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Magazine with the news that the city will be converting all its 100,000 streetlights (and 18,000 alley lights) to LED. Based on our experience in Philadelphia and elsewhere, this is a great move - and one that can deliver benefits beyond lighting.

Philadelphia reached the decision to move to LEDs following a number of successful pilots around the city. The success of 5,000 lights replaced around the city was enough to convince planners to make the leap and convert all of the lighting.

Cost savings were definitely part of the equation. The city currently spends approximately $15 million on lighting every year and anticipates LEDs will reduce that amount by roughly 40 percent. Aside from the savings, there are environmental benefits as well. Philadelphia Magazine reports that the city expects to reduce carbon emissions associated with street lighting by more than 13,000 metric tons.

lighting controllers philadelphia

Richard Montanez, the deputy street commissioner in Philadelphia, says LEDs will use 55 percent less electricity than the existing streetlights. At CIMCON, we’ve had the opportunity to work with Richard on other pilots in the city and know he’s thinking not just about lighting, but how lighting can be one part of a smart city implementation.

For example, during LIGHTFAIR, a major lighting tradeshow held in Philadelphia in May, CIMCON worked with Richard and his team to install people counting sensors outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Our NearSky smart city platform was included in a Connected Lighting solution developed by CDW-G as part of the city’s SmartCityPHL initiative. The goal, in this case, was to understand the impact of a major event on the flow of pedestrians and traffic in and around the Convention Center.

As Montanez said at the time, “We are looking at technology that allows us to leverage our existing streetlight infrastructure to evaluate and deploy smart city technologies.” As that infrastructure continues to expand, so does the potential for new smart city applications.

Philadelphia is just one example of a city that is rethinking its infrastructure in new and exciting ways. Lighting is often the logical first step, but it is by no means the final step cities should take. Whenever a city begins the process of adding intelligence, CIMCON will be ready to serve as a trusted partner. Review the Smart City Checklist for City Planners that has advice from city planners from Syracuse, NY and other cities that have embarked on this journey already.