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Live Labs Blog: bringing innovation to Victorian streetlighting

24 July 2020

In our latest blog, David Aarons from enLight talks about how innovative technology has been brought to Victorian streetlighting in Fairford Leys as part of Buckinghamshire Council’s SMART connected communities Live Lab project…

Every project has its challenges, but working together and taking a collaborative approach ensures the eventual solution works for everyone. Buckinghamshire Council’s Live Lab scheme is a perfect example of this, particularly as it came with the additional challenge of Covid-19 – as well as affecting the supply chain and lead times, as a small company enLight has, of course, had to reorganise its workspace in order to implement the correct social-distancing measures.

enLight has been at the forefront of software development, communication and microelectronics for more than 30 years. Our smart cities systems give those with responsibility for neighbourhoods and towns the information to make key decisions in response to environmental conditions.

The enLight system is energy-efficient and low-maintenance, as well as cost-effective and scalable. It is also designed for interoperability, allowing existing components from other manufacturers to work together without the need to purchase completely new equipment.

Our technology turns streetlighting into an environmental monitoring network sensing air quality, traffic flow, floodwater, parking spaces… whatever is required. At its heart is something we created called the enTalk DolFin®Pro, which turns streetlamps into nodes in a mesh network.

There wasn’t space for a DolFin®Pro in the Live Lab project, so we took the tech from the DolFin®Pro and created the enTalk NemaNode, which houses the sensors. This can be retrofitted and configured so that existing products from different manufacturers can work in harmony.

Its space-saving design contains a universal power supply (with surge protection). It also includes a universal lighting interface, which supports two channels of 7-pin NEMA controls that can be remotely configured for PWM-DALI (DALI2), 1-10V, a sub-Gigahertz enTalk radio network, and a selection of sensors including light level (lux), colour temperature, normal temperature, six axes of movement detection and orientation, and GPS location. Plus, there’s a Bluetooth low-energy interface module.

Our brief for the Bucks’ Live Lab project was to create a technology that not only provided effective and efficient environmental monitoring, but also retained the aesthetics of the Victorian-style lampposts in the conservation area of Fairford Leys parish.

We sat down with Buckinghamshire Council and realised that deploying technology into historical lighting was a real challenge – adding our NemaNode to the top would have ruined the shape and silhouette of these lights. So, we went away and thought about how we could combine the technology of the DolFin®Pro, the space-saving capabilities of the NemaNode, and the Victorian-inspired design considerations of the neighbourhood.

The Victorian-style lamp posts in Fairford Leys are topped with ornamental finials, and these became our inspiration. We created the enTalk DolFinial®, which brings environmental monitoring sensors to heritage streetlighting – and you wouldn’t even know it was there. We simply changed the finial so it accommodated the technology, solving the issue and at the same time designing a new product line especially for architectural and heritage lighting.

By listening to what was required, we came up with a sympathetic design that solved both the tech and the aesthetic issues. We’ve always been innovators at enLight, and we’re really proud to have come up with a solution that works for the council and the future.