Tuesday, 13 January 2009

‘GTO’ – a new form of data driven optimisation, but this time it’s for street lights!

In Doerentrup in Germany local residents are now able to use their mobile phones to turn on local street lights!

Dial4Light® is running in a number of German towns with ‘licht per anruf’ (lighting by calling) saving up to 25% of local street lighting energy bills and improving the carbon footprints of Lemgo, Dörentrup, Kalletal and Rahden - in these towns all street lights are turned off at 9pm.

After registering with a central database, local residents can then choose to light up selected routes by dialling a number and entering a pre-configured route code or codes for individual lights (codes are posted on lamp posts as well as on the internet.) When a call is received a modem is activated and the relevant street lights come on automatically. (Dial4Light users can also set up a personalised profile called MyDial4Light that keeps an archive of personal journeys and maps, making it easier to use the service.)

Each street light will normally stay on for around 10-15 minutes, however 2 months after installation there is enough data for ‘Glow time optimisation’ to be implemented. Glow time optimisation is the result of data analysis that allows illumination duration of individual lights to be optimised to the ideal time length, something that I think should be referred to as GTO henceforth (I love the idea of data fuelled optimisation being applied to real world things like street lights!)

Full details of the scheme can be found here -
https://www.dial4light.de/dial4light/d4lWie.do (in German.)

The Doerentrup Dial4Light® test was reported on the BBC recently (video link) -

and more discussion can be found on the ixda forum where there are a number of interesting ideas to further develop this service:

- Use Bluetooth proximity sensors to switch on lights as you walk towards them (from Tamlyn)
- Use either WiFi with a transmitted beacon from your mobile and have the lights come on automatically (from ‘Mark’)
- Light up via motion sensors – “of course if there are no horses or cows running freely on the streets” (Bengi)
- Phone call activation utilising voice recognition of street names – instant solution and in a small town the chances for mis-interpretation are small (Mark)
- Allow sending an SMS of the first few letters of a street's name - would either result in all the lights for that street to be turned on, or a list being returned. (Mark)

If successful, Dial4Light becomes a great example of how lateral thinking can create new uses for established technology (in this case mobile phones), whilst benefiting the environment at the same time.

One for John Grant I think!


John Grant said...

Hi Nick, yes indeed a friend told me about this over xmas but I hadnt seen the actual links/full story :J

Nick Burcher said...

I thought it would be the sort of thing you would appreciate - simple ways of using existing technology to make a difference to the planet.

Now we just have to find a way to move it from a small German village to a city like London?!