When you think of utility poles, you don’t normally think of how it plays a part in day-to-day living. Most have only one function – lighting. Smart poles are a new advancement in the urban landscape. Although not everyone has the same idea on what purpose a smart pole should deliver. Navigant Research defines smart poles as the integration of smart lighting systems, sensors, wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi or cellular technology), and other functions into one cohesive unit.
Remotely managed smart poles house technology to improve mobile network with 5G performance across the grid. They are also considered to be digital real estate of the Internet of Things (IoT). Having a multitude of functions on a single pole, will reduce maintenance costs because of remote management, and will help cities to be more energy sustainable. These multifunctional poles create space and improve the environment visually and operationally. From the sustainability point of view, smart poles are 100% recyclable and operate with renewable energy.
So how should a smart pole function? Many companies agree that the smart poles should be equipped with photocell controlled LED lights, a camera, and app based wireless control; however, that’s just the beginning. Some companies are envisioning digital street signs and signage, vehicle charging stations, seismic sensors, and even water detectors.
While there are many different ideas on how a smart pole should operate and what features it should include, one thing is for sure – smart poles, however defined, will become more and more prevalent in a city near you.