Riegrovy sady at night. via Raymond Johnston

Prague plans to put motion sensors on street lights to cut down on wasted energy

Prague plans on saving money by modernizing street lights with motion sensors

Prague plans on saving money by modernizing street lights with motion sensors. Many locations in the city are lit all night, despite nobody walking there. In addition, lamp posts will be converted to also carry charging ports for electric cars, and QR codes to help people identify locations in case of accidents or emergencies.

Currently, just before it gets dark, over 130,000 street lamps automatically light up across Prague. The city pays over 80 million CZK annually for the electricity to power the lights.

The new street lights will have sensors that detect if someone is walking nearby. If not, the lamp won’t light. About a quarter of Prague’s street lights could be fitted with sensors. The city could also track which lamps are in use.

In many cases, the lamps shine all night for no reason. Prague’s parks are often empty at night, but kept lit just in case somebody wants to cross them. “That is why we want to install sensory public lighting in such places. This means that it would switch only when there were moving individuals and would not shine unnecessarily all night,” City Councilor Jan Chabr (United Force for Prague) said, according to news server Aktualne.cz

Riegrovy sady at night
Riegrovy sady at night. via Raymond Johnston

The exact savings are hard to estimate in advance. The cost of operating each lamp, though, is directly related to how long it is in use. “Basically, if the lamp isn’t used 90% of the time, we’ll save 90 percent of the cost,” Chabr said.

Energy prices are expected to rise in the near future, which makes cutting energy use more urgent.

“According to all expectations, the price of energy will soon rise rapidly, especially with the end of nuclear power plants in Germany in 2021,” Chabr added.

The city is now deciding which lamps should have sensors. Chabr said that some 32,000 are likely to get them eventually.

Street lights
Street light in Prague. via Raymond Johnston

The city also hopes to create a smart lighting network, so that non-functioning lights will automatically be detected and a central control station can be informed. The current system relies on local residents to report broken lights or a city monitoring vehicle to spot them. As a result, lights can be out for several days.

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Adding sensors to lamps can be done at the same time as when cables are replaced so the poles can be used to charge electric vehicles. More vehicle manufacturers are moving to electric vehicles, and the city needs to respond with infrastructure.

EU guidelines call for cities to greatly reduce CO2 output by 2030, and electric vehicles are a large element of the plan.

Another change for street lights is that the six-digit code number plates are being supplemented with QR codes. Many people don’t realize that each street light has a unique number, and in case of emergency this can be given to emergency services in Prague to help pinpoint the location where help is needed.

lamp code
The code on a street light can be used in emergencies. via Raymond Johnston

A person can now in some locations scan also a QR code and send it to the Integrated Rescue System. The project is in a pilot phase.

Often people are unfamiliar with street names and have a hard time describing where an accident happened, and the code greatly shortens the amount of time needed to describe the location.

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