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‘Smart’ street lights to track traffic, parking, air quality

SAN DIEGO – The city of San Diego Wednesday announced a major expansion of a program in which “smart sensors” are installed on street lights to gather and disseminate data on traffic, parking availability, public safety and air quality, among other things.

The city has partnered with a Boston firm — Current, powered by GE — to install 3,200 of the sensors.

“Fostering innovation and improving infrastructure are important to enhancing the lives of all San Diegans,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “This new technology will give the city and developers the opportunity to make our neighborhoods safer and smarter.”

San Diego officials call it the largest city-based deployment of an “Internet of Things” platform in the world. The Internet of Things refers to web connectivity in everyday items, such as appliances.

The nodes can use real-time anonymous sensor data to direct drivers to open parking spaces, help first-responders during emergencies, track carbon emissions, and identify intersections that can be improved for pedestrians and cyclists. The anonymous information from the sensors can be used by developers to create apps and software that can benefit the community, city officials said.

Installation is scheduled to begin in July and be completed in the fall of 2018. Another 3,000 sensors could be added in the future.

Additionally, the city will be replacing 14,000 street lights with more energy-efficient versions to reduce energy costs by $2.4 million annually.

The street lights include technology that allows for dimming and brightening in public venues manually or automatically, depending on natural light conditions.