How Vodafone and Philips are leveraging the Internet of Things to spark new era of smart cities

Mobile operator Vodafone has formed a new partnership with Philips Lighting which combines an Internet of Things (IoT) network with an integrated LED street light management system, which could see cities across the world slash energy use by 70%.

Vodafone is connecting its machine-to-machine (M2M) SIM card network with the lighting company’s LED street light management system, creating ‘highly-flexible’, city-wide infrastructure that allows engineers to monitor and control lighting outputs.

Philips Lighting head of strategy and marketing Bill Bien said: “Just less than 12% of the world’s street lights are LED and less than 2% are connected. We are at the start of a new era which will see highly energy efficient connected street lighting become the backbone of most smart cities.

“Robust and reliable wireless connectivity will help make this happen, linking streetlights with sensors, devices and management systems. By partnering with Vodafone we can work together to take light beyond illumination, helping to make cities more energy efficient, safer and ultimately more liveable.”

Under the partnership, Vodafone will become a ‘global IoT connectivity partner’ for Philips Lighting. Every street lamp in cities using the system will be fitted with a Vodafone M2M SIM and a range of Philips Lighting CityTouch LED systems – cities currently using Philips’ system have quoted energy savings of 70%.

The Climate Group has previously stated that a global rollout of LEDs would reduce electricity consumption for lighting by 52%, avoiding more than 730 million tonnes of CO2e emissions annually.

Vodafone’s M2M director Erik Brenneis explained that the ease of implementation that the Philips partnership is offering creates an easily scalable infrastructure that can support a variety of smart city applications that can be monitored and adjusted around the clock.

Brenneis said: “Lighting plays a key role in the smart city. Our agreement with Philips will see this technology transforming cities across the world backed by Vodafone’s world-leading innovation, technologies and networks.”

Smart decisions

A Vodafone spokesperson was unable to confirm which cities will be integrating the new partnership platform, although the CityTouch system is already operational in Los Angeles, London and Buenos Aires. But Vodafone did reveal that it had rolled-out more than 35 million IoT sustainability solutions across the globe.

According to its latest sustainability report, Vodafone has helped save its customers more than 3.5m tonnes of CO2e thanks to its ability to connect devices and share information through IoT. As an example, Vodafone enabled smart bins in cities to transmit data to the local council, alerting them when they need to be emptied. By only making trips when necessary, a refuse fleet in one city cut transport emissions by 18%.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum have claimed that combining IoT with circular economy principles would present “significant opportunities for almost every part of society”.

Matt Mace

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