CIMCON Software, a leading developer of automated street light control systems, helps communities reduce the maintenance cost and environmental footprint of street lights. CIMCON Software’s LightingGale system is an automated centralized street light management system that enables street lights to be remotely monitored and controlled. The street lights are connected to the LightingGale system through a Street Light Controller (SLC) that can be installed in the same location as a traditional photocell through a simple plug-and-play process.
CIMCON recently deployed its system on the island of St. John in the Virgin Islands. The individual SLCs communicate with each other and eventually to a gateway through a self-forming, self-healing RF mesh network. The Island of St. John is mountainous and features dense vegetation, warm temperatures, high humidity, regular thundershowers and a hurricane season. Under these conditions, CIMCON felt the highest risk would be the communication between the SLCs and the gateway. To overcome these issues, CIMCON chose Digi’s XBee-PRO® ZB module for the project because of its rugged design, ease of use and reliability.
"We needed something that was easy to use and could withstand the harsh elements," said Anil Agrawal, director, CIMCON Software. "We also needed a solution that could traverse great ranges and dense brush. Digi offers the industry's leading ZigBee products, and we felt confident its XBee® modules would prove reliable under the severe island conditions." In addition, Digi's K-Node service allowed us to simulate our ZigBee network performance so that we were able to deploy with 100% confidence.
Making the "Hop"
The LightingGale System replaces traditional street light photocells with a Street Light Controller (SLC). The SLC can monitor pertinent electrical parameters and control the light in a variety of ways – from dimming the lights during peak hours to setting schedules so groups of lights can be turned on and off at set times to conserve energy. The system can also send alerts when something goes wrong. This eliminates the need to physically inspect the system on a regular basis which greatly reduces maintenance costs.
There are more than 650 SLCs attached to street lights scattered across the island. Because of the ruggedness and range of Digi’s XBee-PRO ZB module, CIMCON was able to establish full communication across the entire island by deploying only two gateways. The gateways then connect the mesh network to Cimcon’s LightingGale management software where customers can easily access street light energy consumption data and control individual lights.
"The island only has two gateways covering 28 square miles of land," Agrawal added. "I was pleasantly surprised that the Digi modules could cover the entire island with only two gateways. The products provide tremendous range through dense brush and over mountains – and we even have some modules covering 1.7 miles over water."
Mesh Network Used Beyond Street Light Management
In addition to connecting island street lights, the mesh network will also be used by the Virgin Island Water and Power Authority to connect its electrical monitoring reclosures. Approximately 60 reclosures are located throughout the three US Virgin Islands transmitting power to homes and businesses. When completed, the Virgin Island Water and Power Authority will be able to easily monitor and control each reclosure remotely over the mesh network.
"The utility can use the network for more than street light control," Agrawal said. "For example, it enables smartphone applications where customers can set up alarms and notifications regarding energy consumption and faults. Ultimately, it helps the utility improve customer satisfaction while allowing it to reduce energy consumption."
Tech Support Makes System Deployment Easy
Agrawal is also pleased with the level of technical support from Digi throughout the entire process. Digi conducted an island simulation and functional tests before system deployment to determine how the system would operate under the extreme island conditions.
"Digi was extremely supportive before we were even in there with customers," Agrawal concluded. “Tech support was very helpful in the beginning in trying to determine where the load would be. We were able to simulate up to 15 hops in 500 nodes using Digi’s K-Node service and established parameters that would work for the network. Once we were on the island, everything just worked like it did in the lab. We were so well prepared going in that we haven’t needed any tech support since."
Digi offers the industry’s leading ZigBee products, and we felt confident its XBee modules would prove reliable under the severe island conditions.
Application: Automated street light control systems
Industry: Street lighting
Company: CIMCON Software, Inc.
Challenge: CIMCON needed a rugged mesh networking solution to connect island street lights and remote electrical monitoring reclosures across the entire island of St. John.
Solution: CIMCON utilized long-range, rugged and reliable XBee-PRO ZB modules to establish full wireless communication between Street Light Controllers (SLCs) and gateways via self-forming, self-healing mesh networks.
More about XBee-PRO ZB Modules
XBee-PRO ZB modules bring wireless network connectivity to remote endpoint devices. These low-cost, low-power modules require no configuration or additional development for out-of-the- box RF communications.
Utilizing the ZigBee PRO Feature Set, XBee modules are interoperable with other ZigBee devices, including devices from other vendors.
- Advanced configuration options available via simple AT or API commands
- No configuration needed for out-ofthe-box RF communications
- Common XBee footprint for a variety of RF modules
- Self-healing and discovery for network stability