San Jose, Calif. has begun installing 50 SmartPoles that integrate LTE wireless with LED street lighting.
The poles will also have custom energy meters on top to monitor the electricity used by LTE wireless transmitters.
The pilot SmartPole program is part of a broader smart city focus envisioned by San Jose that takes advantage of Internet of Things technologies. In June, Intel paired up with the city on a separate project to install a network of sensors to collect data on air pollution, noise, traffic flow and water quality to improve the local environment and livability.
The SmartPole technology relies on energy-efficient LED lighting from Philips and LTE technology from Ericsson. The lighting can be wirelessly controlled to modify lighting levels, but there will also be a fiber optic backbone for connecting smart elements to a broader network.
Verizon Wireless is the first wireless carrier to take advantage of the LTE transmitters on the poles, which can help improve the density of the LTE network to boost wireless data transmissions in crowded areas. Signal dropouts are sometimes a problem in crowded downtowns.
PG&E and Philips created the custom energy meters, about the size of a football, to sit atop the poles to monitor the energy used by the transmitters. One benefit of putting the meters on the top is that city can reduce the clutter from standalone meters attached to metal utility cabinets that sit on city sidewalks.
The industry partners in the project are paying for all the SmartPole infrastructure and the city is not incurring any capital costs, according to the city and a spokeswoman for Philips.
The SmartPole pilot was initiated three years ago when theft of copper wire knocked out many of the city's streetlights. City partnerships with technology companies led to the addition of LTE and meters. "This is another story where crisis met opportunity," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo told the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
The city is interested in expanding beyond the initial 50 SmartPoles, depending how the initial rollout goes, he added.