Nordic helps Urban Control develop streetlight controller

  • April 26, 2022
  • Steve Rogerson

Urban Control worked with Nordic Semiconductor to develop what it says is the world’s first plug-and-play IoT LED streetlight controller for smart cities.

Urban Control is a UK-based smart city technology provider. Working with Nordic Semiconductor, it has developed a plug-and-play IoT LED streetlight luminaire controller that is quick to install and can scale-up to millions of lights.

The Node 324 Cellular city streetlight LED luminaire controllers each include the Nordic Semiconductor nRF9160 multi-mode NB-IoT and LTE-M system-in-package (SiP) and plug into a standard Zhaga LED lighting socket. They then connect over the local cellular IoT network allowing them to be remotely controlled by any smart city central management system (CMS) based on the common Talq standard.

Using standard cellular technology, it works straight out of the box, just like a mobile phone. This makes it cost-effective for small and distributed lighting estates to get the benefits of intelligent central control for the first time. Examples might include streetlights in retail parks, hotel chains, office and warehouse developments, and across rail infrastructure such as stations, car parks and goods yards.

The controllers deliver the benefits of smart city LED street lighting, including the ability to control brightness and thus energy consumption and costs precisely depending on actual local conditions; the ability to respond dynamically to sudden changes in pedestrian numbers or road traffic; the ability to monitor energy consumption in real time; and the ability to identify and even pre-empt faults and precisely target maintenance crews, again reducing operating costs and unnecessary maintenance via environmentally polluting, service-van inspections.

“Unlike traditional smart city lighting installations that require a specialised network to be built, the Urban Node 324 Cellular works straight out-of-the-box just like a smartphone,” said Miguel Lira, Urban Control’s innovation and development director. “This makes it commercially and technologically viable for any size installation because it does not require the operator to build their own wireless IoT network or become a wireless IoT network operator themselves. This brings all of the benefits of smart lighting to small clusters of streetlights all the way up to massive, multi-million node capital city-sized installations. This is truly a game changer in the smart city streetlighting industry.”

The light output can be adapted to precisely what is needed, and they can respond dynamically to changes in pedestrian footfall or road traffic. In doing so, they reduce energy costs, carbon emissions and light pollution. They also report when they have a fault, which saves on maintenance costs.

“Now that the potential and value of smart city applications has been successfully demonstrated, the time has come to begin developing resources that will allow towns and cities to deploy these technologies at scale quickly and affordably,” said Lorenzo Amicucci, business development manager at Norway-based Nordic Semiconductor. “Moving away from proprietary solutions towards devices which are ready straight out of the box and leverage cellular networks that are already deployed in every town, city and significant population centre around the world, devices like Urban Node 324 can make anywhere smart more quickly and for less cost.”

The operational simplicity of each Urban Node 324 comes from them being engineered to work via a lightweight-machine-to-machine (LwM2M) platform called Alaska from IoT device management and security specialist IoTerop. This leverages the uCIFI and Talq smart city IoT standards. It additionally uses embedded design engineering to reduce on-air bandwidth and get power consumption levels low enough to support battery-powered smart city sensors and devices.

Urban Control is part of the DW Windsor Group, a British lighting manufacturer that was recently acquired by Luceco.

Nordic Semiconductor is a fabless semiconductor company specialising in low-power wireless technology for the IoT.