- In the year since the Chicago Smart Lighting Program began, the city's Department of Transportation has installed 76,000 LED smart streetlight fixtures in all of the city's 50 wards.
- The four-year modernization program entails replacing 270,000 lights by 2021 and installing a citywide lighting management system. The system will notify the city when lights need servicing once it becomes operational later this year.
- The new lights consume 50-75% less electricity than the previous high-pressure sodium models. The city estimates the energy efficient lights will save up to $1 million in electricity costs the first year and $100 million over 10 years, and that the savings will offset the cost of upgrading.
Chicago took an interesting strategy with its new streetlight installation. Rather than only focusing on well-trafficked, high commerce zones, city staff also chose to start with traditionally underserved areas that run a higher risk of crime and public safety concerns. The thought is that higher quality, more reliable lighting could boost safety in those neighborhoods.
In addition to using less energy the LED streetlights are expected to last two to three times longer than the previous high-pressure sodium lights. The LEDs reportedly provide better visibility at night and cut down on light pollution because they project light downward instead of the light splaying upward as well. Residents in other cities that installed LED streetlights have complained that the lights are too bright, but Chicago's are of a lower intensity brightness and have the ability to be dimmed.
Chicago's home state of Illinois has its own smart streetlight purchasing program to assist local governments of all sizes with upgrading to LED lights.
Upgrading to modern streetlights also paves the way for outfitting the lights with smart technologies. Other cities have integrated Wi-Fi, sensors and electric vehicle (EV) charging stations into their modernized streetlights. Leaders and private companies continue to collaborate on identifying other potential smart streetlight applications like connecting to them via Bluetooth to report car accidents or passersby connecting with them via a smartphone app to report unsafe conditions.