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How GE illuminated San Diego — smartly

December 15, 2015

The City of San Diego is lit with something quite a bit smarter than the average city. In a pilot program with GE Lighting, San Diego is slowly replacing its street lights with a system of sensor-driven LED lights that also serve as a base layer for smart city services.

The lights can dim or strengthen based on information the sensors pick up — such as people walking on the street or twilight progressing into nightfall. And they can be paired with other smart city services. Just what those are is part of the pilot but they could be identifying heavy traffic or, sensing smoke, alerting 911. Public safety is a key likely benefit.

Just switching out 10 percent of San Diego's lighting resulted in saving $250,000. Imagine the savings once most of the city is lit up with these smart LED bulbs.

David Graham, COO of neighborhood services for the city of San Diego, and Kathy Sterio, CMO of GE Lighting, explain in this VERGE video what the pilot is all about.

The equipment is the hardware of LED lights, which are semiconductor driven, plus sensors plus software. The combination could allow street lights to be "the analytical brains of the city," Sterio said. But privacy concerns ought not to be an issue, Sterio and Graham said, because the sensors pick up group motions or data trends, not individual behavior.