Phoenix Contact specializes in the automation of components, machines, and systems and, in addition to industrial production and renewable energies, also supplies systems for municipal infrastructure. In this context, the intelligent street mast plays a central role as part of the future infrastructure of intelligent cities. For a long time, the company’s focus was on the industrial application of its solutions. With the development of new digitalization, cloud, and IoT business segments, the company’s developments are making increasingly important contributions outside the industrial environment, meaning that the expertise of this hidden champion is now also being used to implement smart city solutions.
Together with Concept Reply, the software development partner of the Reply Group specialized in IoT end-to-end solutions, Phoenix Contact is now taking the first steps toward developing a street lighting application based on the LoRaWAN standard for the individual control of street lights in smart cities. LoRaWAN is regarded as a pioneering protocol that enables the development of a proprietary infrastructure with a range of five to seven kilometers across open terrain. Concept Reply has seamlessly integrated this into the existing cloud infrastructure.
At the same time, a permanent power supply at the mast shifts the switching point into the lamps – something very much new, as the lamp mast usually only carries power when the street lighting is switched on.
The LoRaWAN-based Streetlighting Application is intended to increase the safety and attractiveness of streets and squares, save energy, and switch and control lamps dynamically. This results in less light pollution, simplifies maintenance management, and reduces the associated costs.
LoRaWAN stands for Long Range Wide Area Network and is a MAC (Medium Access Control) protocol for WAN.
"Long range" here means 2-3 km range in rural areas, 5-7 km beyond, and up to a maximum of 702 km (world record: a distance of 702,676 km was achieved with just 25 mW (14 dBm) transmission power).
Designed for use with low-power devices (LPWAN)
Support of secure, bidirectional communication for the IoT
Scale from a single gateway to a large global network of billions of devices
Typically used in the free/low frequency band, in Europe 867-869 Mhz
Characteristics: redundant operation, geolocalization, cost-effective, energy-saving, suitable for single-building applications, an in-house network can be set up and managed
One of the project goals was a cloud-based solution. This brings considerable advantages over locally installed IT systems. These include on-demand use, low operating and maintenance costs, and scalable and highly available systems. Municipal companies can thus position themselves as LoRaWAN providers and cities can guarantee street lighting that meets all legal lighting requirements. One challenge is the variety of devices – and this is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. LED technology already makes it possible, for example, to change the color temperature or color code. The integration of different manufacturers – alongside multi-device management and security – will thus continue to be a high-value proposition, offering an open, manufacturer-independent platform.
The technological expertise of Phoenix Contact made a major contribution to the success of the project. Phoenix Contact’s proprietary Proficloud platform is a central component of the finished product. It serves as the basic infrastructure on which the street lighting application and the LoRaWAN server are based. This separation of application logic and technology-specific implementation of the LoRaWAN protocol makes it possible to transfer the system to other radio technologies or standards in the future without having to make significant changes to the street lighting application itself. The platform is therefore already equipped for future wireless technologies and can be easily expanded.
In addition to the individual control of street lights that is already possible today, completely different applications are conceivable in the future. With the introduction of RGB LEDs and light colors, people can be made aware or warned of specific situations. This can, for example, make it possible to clear roads and paths. Accidents could be a further use case: with the Streetlighting Application, it is possible to switch the street lights at the scene of an accident to cold light, while at the same time increasing the intensity in a targeted manner. This gives local rescue workers better visibility in difficult, life-threatening situations. In combination with appropriate sensor technology, lighting can also be linked to the arrival of a person such that a street light in the park, for example, only switches on when needed, thus saving a large amount of energy.
The street lighting infrastructure is visualized on a map. A dashboard enables the assignment of lanterns to groups. And these groups can be individually parameterized, for example by assigning a common illumination calendar.
Vue.js, Bulma, and Cypress.io were commissioned to develop the front end.
The robust, secure, and scalable backend service was developed in Spring Boot.
Due to the micro service architecture based on the Proficloud infrastructure, Docker, Kubernetes, Ansible, and Terraform are also being used.
Even though Machine Learning and AI are not yet being used, scenarios are already imaginable in which street lighting of the future could adapt to specific conditions on the basis of AI.
Self-learning street lighting would be trained using manual inputs and data, thus offering the ideal lighting solution for every situation.
While a buzzword such as Smart City might initially suggest a major city, development of the Streetlighting Application is aimed much more at small to medium-sized cities, with the aim of allowing them to more easily get to grips with the idea of the Smart City – because with the development of an initial Smart City-capable infrastructure, the foundation has already been laid for the rapid and secure implementation of further sustainable applications.
Together with customers and partners, Phoenix Contact designs solutions for the world of tomorrow with trend-setting connection/automation technology. Wherever these are needed – for example in transport infrastructure, electromobility, clean water, renewable energies, and intelligent supply networks or energy-efficient mechanical and plant engineering. Phoenix Contact focuses on technological change and the social impacts thereof. With almost 100 years of experience in mechanical engineering and automation, the company is already working today on the intelligent production of tomorrow.
Concept Reply is a software development partner specialized in innovative IoT solutions. It offers its customers solutions for smart infrastructure, industrial IoT, and connected cars, working from the initial idea to the planning phase through to implementation, operation, and support. With its IoT specialists, the range extends from implementation in the embedded environment to gateway software and cloud applications.