DimOnOff is the pioneering innovator in wireless controls and remote-monitoring technologies for street and area lighting, steadily rising to become a top-three player in a rapidly growing market. Its combined embedded hardware and back-end management software is changing the rules for municipal lighting by reducing energy consumption, lowering operating and maintenance costs, increasing citizen safety, and creating more vibrant, attractive neighborhoods.
For decades, street lighting has been a low-tech cost center and a drain on municipal finances plagued by high maintenance and operating costs, and a steady stream of citizen complaints when fixtures need repair. In most cities, maintenance employees traversed the streets at night, searching for burned-out lights, or in response to reports from unhappy residents.
“That just isn’t an economically viable model anymore,” said Daniel Noiseux, VP Business Development for DimOnOff. “In most cities, electrical consumption and billing aren’t metered, so the government and its citizens were paying for that light, whether it was operational or not. And since the lamps are primarily governed by a photovoltaic cell, the light operated in a binary mode. If it’s dark out, the light goes on … period; additionally many would fail and stay on or off all day. But that’s a pretty primitive way to think about street lighting.”
Instead, as cities transition from expensive high-pressure sodium (HPS) streetlights to LED fixtures, DimOnOff recognized a new opportunity to simultaneously build in new levels of intelligence and connectivity to create proactive lighting using dimming and other adjustment methods. “This LED upgrade cycle that’s steadily taking place in countless locales is an ideal opportunity for us to piggyback on those replacements at the same time with smarter fixtures that can talk to one another,” Noiseux said. “Imagine the ability to monitor and control thousands of streetlights from a single operations center, or allow built-in sensors to recognize ‘events’ such as traffic volume, pedestrian movements or other activities, and then adjust lighting in the area accordingly.”
DimOnOff offers a solution that turns streetlights into a combination smart light and IoT sensor that lets cities wirelessly manage individual fixtures and electrical loads in order to execute a range of applications. By simply adding DimOnOff’s intelligent, addressable modules to fixtures, the lighting system becomes a controllable network of light nodes, using wireless communication, making it possible to remotely monitor and meter each fixture or circuit individually, and control the lighting status (on/off), output level and timing.
The modules communicate with one another using Digi XBee® wireless RF radios on a secure mesh network, and a master control center (for data logging and scheduling). The Digi DigiMesh™ innovative, peer-to-peer protocol offers added network stability through self-healing, dense network operation.
Administrators can configure and control lights through sensors, switches or from a computer using the DimOnOff SCMS (Smart City Management System) platform that also tracks each fixture’s physical data in real time (W, V, Amp, PF, life, cycling, etc.), and sets up alarms to be sent automatically from individual faulty modules to an email address or a mobile phone for a defective lamp, power outage, or out of standard parameters detection. DimOnOff’ SCMS provides complete and flexible asset and maintenance management and is one of the very few systems on the market with real-life demonstrated support of very large-scale deployments.
“The DigiMesh network solution is very easy for us to deploy – and far less expensive than competing solutions,” Noiseux said. “Our monthly cost with DigiMesh networking is about $.04 per light pole, as compared to $1.00-$2.00 using a cellular device. And when you’re deploying tens of thousands of smart fixtures, it translates into very significant savings.”
With some municipal customers achieving payback in as little as three years, DimOnOff’s networked lighting solution is delivering compelling value. “Our customers report that they’re saving as much as 40-50 percent in maintenance costs,” said Noiseux, “because they can optimize their truck rolls and ensure each crew has the right parts to make repairs – they’ll now know in advance what needs to be fixed. Energy costs are lower and citizens are happier because our solution lets them tightly calibrate lighting to match each location’s unique and changing needs. For instance, if there’s prolonged inactivity, we can dim the lighting to save energy. Conversely, if there’s a lot of activity, we can increase the amount of light in that location.”
“But there are lots of new and interesting applications as well, especially from a public safety perspective. For instance, if a 911 call comes in, we can blink that streetlight to indicate the call’s origin to first responders. We can ‘strobe’ streetlights to highlight an evacuation route during a weather or civil emergency, or even after a major downtown event like a concert. During a snowstorm or for street cleaning, using the same system, we can add signage to indicate to motorists where and when the street is open for parking to help streamline snow removal or street sweeping activities. We also deployed battery powered sewer level monitoring devices that tag along the smart streetlight network to bring back and log real time data to report to the municipality and the government’s environmental department. Another recent innovation is an RGBW (red, green, blue and white) control module that provides moods to a city’s lively touristic region.
“And we can control all of this because Digi XBee is networking these devices in a mesh configuration with little cost and excellent reliability.”
DimOnOff is planning a major release of its SCMS platform next fall that will allow easy integration of multiple IoT devices developers and vendors into this very powerful system. We are also developing many new sensors (snow level, sound, air, parking, vibration, and a few secret ones…) to add to our current offer over the next few months.”