Internet of Things: How Smart Poles are Lighting up Smart Cities

Emma Crameri Emma Crameri has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
on 23 August 2020

Get ready to see an influx of smart technology from your home to the street corner. Take Smart Poles for instance. This is a catchy marketing name for an electrical pole with added technology.

Old-school power lines and electric transmission towers tend to be pretty ugly in the urban landscape. Smart poles are designed to provide an elegant solution to minimising the number of poles on an urban street.

Smart Poles have a number of customisable options based on the client’s user requirements. They are ideal for environmental monitoring and can guide first responders.  The idea has been around for many years – you probably use them and don’t realise. For example, when you swipe your card for the train, that’s an example of a smart pole with a card reader.

There are a number of companies that manufacture smart poles. They come in a number of different sizes for different urban settings. They can be called other marketing names, like smart trees. They can be straight, tapered, square and round, or support banners and light fittings.

Smart Poles: The Pros

  • Promises real-time data
  • Changing to LED lighting leads to energy savings
  • Light on demand using motion sensors and time monitoring
  • Can provide a free WiFi hotspot
  • Security and surveillance cameras
  • Integrated 4G and 5G antennas
  • Can house environmental monitoring devices, like temperature, lighting, UV index, humidity, wind speed and direction, pressure, weather, luminosity and lidar
  • Monitors to provide information and advertisements

Smart Poles: The Cons

  • The standard out-of-the-box designs may look ugly in streetscapes with archeological or architecturally significant buildings
  • Some suggested functionality is frivolous
  • Ownership of data
  • Privacy concerns

I’d love to have smart lighting with sensors installed along the footpath where I walk back from public transport at night. I’d like to be able to pre-book a parking spot in the Central Business District, and then charge my electrical vehicle while I go shopping.

However, I don’t like the idea of leaning against a pole in the city checking my phone and not knowing that there is a hidden security camera above me. I don’t like the idea of walking into a venue that uses facial recognition software without signage and transparency.

Once a network of smart poles has been set up, they promise to be easily accessible for maintenance and servicing. 

A network of smart poles in any urban area needs to have a definite purpose, clear identification and tight security.  

Hero pic credit: Rosalind Chang from Unsplash

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