Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On-Demand Street Lights Save $$ and Carbon Emissions

Here's a BBC video, at which shows an eighty-one second video of how an innovative German town saves on street lighting by allowing local folks to turn on street lighting as needed from their phones. You might consider asking County Service District No. 5 or the County Sustainability Office to talk to PGE about a demo project.

Unlike the German project shown in the video, there's no reason why folks could not use landline or VOIP phones to call in to turn up the lights, no need to require the caller to have a cellphone.

Open Source software to run it like MySQL, Linux and Apache are free, and a server from Freegeek suitable to run them are free for the asking.

Each light pole could mount a custom cellphone device which, when the correct text message is received, turns the light on. I'm sure that PGE could get a very good rate for text-only service (based on what I know cellular companies charge large-volume customers) which, with the amortization of the cellular device and the service cost, would be cheaper than wasting power when not needed; and, in volume, the cellular controller would be much cheaper, too, than one-hundred-and-thirty quid.

Then, there's a little bonus; when these cellular devices go off the air, PGE knows the power has failed. Cellphones check in (they call this 'polling') every 30 seconds with a very short data burst on a control channel. PGE could use this data to more accurately determine power outages, and map them based on every streetlight in an area which is silent.

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