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Feature | May 2014

Creating Safe Cities through Planned Public Lighting

In today's world of high energy costs, one cannot afford to ignore efficiency in energy consumption and management. There is a need for a planned public lighting system that uses high quality certified energy efficient equipment.

Cities are wellsprings of culture, technology, wealth and power. They are an essential cog in the growth engines of services-sector based economies. Presently, cities in India are trapped in an eternal dichotomy on the one hand catering to the needs of a rising affluent population, and on the other hand struggling to provide the bare minimum to the growing number of rural immigrants. Generally, the State government/local bodies are entrusted with the onus of providing essential infrastructure services such as roads, water supply, sanitation, electricity, transport, lighting etc. In order to operate in a smooth fashion, urban agglomerations require adequate and efficient infrastructure. This requires robust planning, so as to meet not only the underlying needs but also the future demand of a scaling urban habitation.

Amidst other things, public lighting forms an important part of infrastructure in an urban set-up. It is central to the other key components comprising urban infrastructure and ensures a smooth conduct in an urban setting. If one ponders a little deeper, it is an essential tool for a sustainable habitat but also an effective tool to promote economic activities that promote and sustain urbanisation. Also, public lighting plays a crucial role in maintaining safety, security of people, motorists and helps maintain the law and order. It does not need any elaboration that dark roads deter social and economic activities and at the same time public lighting if not planned appropriately can create chaotic environment, which is not desirable. Public lighting also has a potential to create intangible value by creating an 'identity and image' for a city. Also, the economic benefit associated to this is, attracting domestic and international tourism and assuring residents and visitors stay out for a longer duration. Besides, commercial establishments viz. restaurateurs, shops, social areas are direct beneficiaries of this which in turn contribute significantly towards the overall economic development. However, in today's world of high energy costs, one cannot afford to ignore efficiency in energy consumption and management. There is therefore a need for a planned public lighting system that uses high quality certified energy efficient equipment.

How does one achieve this?

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Any urban setting requires robust planning. Planning must provide for not just existing demand but also the future requirements of a growing population. Urban planning is the design and regulation of spaces that focus on physical form, economic functions and social and cultural impact of the urban environment and on the location of different activities within it. These are integrated holistically into the City Master Plan.

Urban planning involves various components. First, a perspective plan, which lays down a vision of an urban set up, should be prepared. Thereafter a city master plan/ development plan is carved out. This is further detailed out into zonal/ sub-city and local area plans. These are further divided into annual plans which assess and map the course of action over the financial year. In the past, it has been observed that public lighting has not been stressed upon in City Master Plans. Given the importance of public lighting, especially in urban set ups, city master plans must incorporate a city lighting plan for providing efficient public lighting in a city.

A clear classification of the various types of areas & roads has to be made, along with the specification of minimum lighting requirements. An example of road classification and lighting specification as per Indian Standards is given in the table.

Laying stress on including public lighting in the city master plan is important for it brings multiple benefits. It improves safety and security: it deters crime especially against children and women and reduces accidents. Besides, adequate and efficient public lighting has the ability to promote tourism and economic activities, mitigate environmental issues and bring down high costs associated with providing public lighting. Highlighted below are the features and benefits of deploying energy efficient lighting systems:

In his study ´A review of Street Lighting Evaluations: Crime Reduction Effect´ , Ken Pease of University of Huddersfield states ´Lighting is only one element in the armory of situational reduction, and does not merit any special consideration because of its recent neglect. However, it does deserve consideration as one more' tool, to be used with intelligence and possibly in combination with other methods, in the perpetual "arms race" between the resourceful criminal and the resourceful preventer of crime.´ The table, taken from ´The Stoke-on-Trent Study´ , shows the change of concentration measures for total crime in two towns of the United Kingdom, Dudley and Stoke in relit, adjacent and comparison areas. In both towns, the lighting-enhanced area experienced the greatest reduction in crime concentration. The central message of the table is that changes in lighting confer the most help on those most frequently victimized by crime.

Deployment of state-of-the-art technology
A city lighting plan has a clear classification of the various types of areas and roads that are evolving in cities and as well as the specification of minimum lighting requirements. An example of road classification and lighting specification is given in the table above. There is significant reduction in energy consumption through planned public lighting. The savings come from the use of energy efficient equipment providing lighting levels depending upon the road and its traffic and usage as well as through the control systems that allow for adjusting lighting levels with the natural light available and time of the day.

With the growing demand for electricity and the significant capital and O&M costs incurred towards generation, transmission and distribution, it is important that efficient and cost effective technologies/ equipment are deployed in public lighting systems. It is estimated that the energy consumption of public lighting across the country would reach approx.15 Billion Units (BUs) by 2022 (88% higher than the current consumption levels). By deploying technologies such as LEDs and smart control systems, it is possible to achieve significant energy savings. The benefits of LED lighting are listed in the table.

Adopting new and energy efficient technologies could pave the way for high savings, both, energy and costs. Considering the variable power quality conditions in India, selection of lamps that operate over a wide-range of power parameters can significantly reduce the replacement costs by reducing the failure rate, although it may entail a high initial investment cost. Lower maintenance and lifetime costs are inherent characteristics of the energy efficient lighting technology. The reduced energy demand and consequent reduction in power gene¡ration implies a lesser burden on the primary energy sources and this shall ultimately lead to an improved energy balance for the country as a whole.

Adopting energy efficient lighting systems would also benefit the discoms and ULBs, which are presently incurring losses on account of providing public lighting in its present form.

Way forward
In summary, energy efficient public lighting is a low hanging fruit for quick success in energy conservation and creating safe and beautiful cities.

In 2005, the Government initiated the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). It is a massive city-modernisation programme. The mission envisaged a total investment of over $20 billion over a period of seven years. The mission program aimed at developing urban agglomerates which are economically productive, efficient, equitable and responsive cities by adopting a strategy of upgrading the urban infrastructure governance (UIG), providing basic services to the urban poor (BSUP) and wide-ranging urban sector reforms to strengthen local body governance and improve physical infrastructure. The mission also recognised the need for efficiency.

While JNNURM is a good initiative, it falls short in addressing issues pertaining to public lighting. There is no explicit mention of public or city lighting in the mission objectives, though an inclusion of street lighting for slum areas is part of one of the sub-missions. In order to realise the varied benefits associated with energy efficient lighting, it is imperative that public/city lighting be included in the Urban Renewal Mission. Provisions for City Lighting Plans which encompass the following areas of lighting should be made in the Mission:

  • Public Lighting (street lighting, commercial & government building lighting, etc)
  • Heritage Lighting
  • The plans must facilitate the use of quality certified LEDs & control based lighting solutions.
  • Other specific suggestions include:

  • Public or city lighting should be made a separate eligible category in all future planning of urban infrastructure.
  • ULBs must be provided with financial support, preferably with the support earmarked for initiatives in the direction of EE public lighting projects.
  • Development of city plans which incorporate public lighting as a key category across cities in the country. This will help realise the true savings potential of EE technologies on a national scale.
  • Prepare procurement methodologies which lay down preference towards EE technologies. These should be easily implementable across the country. These should incorporate minimum technical specifications such as lumen output, lumen maintenance and life of lamp (for a specific lamp) in the procurement, bid document or contract. The functional demands that are to be addressed in a lighting installation should be clearly described as well. The life-cycle cost of the products and the alternatives must be calculated and presented to provide a holistic view of the project and its future cost.
  • In-depth support should be extended through the already initiated JNNURM to reap the greater benefits.
  • Accord infrastructure status to energy efficient public lighting to encourage invest¡ments by increasing access to long term low cost funds.
  • The author is Dhiraj Mathur, Executive Director, PwC. The views expressed in the article are personal
  • Box If we replace conventional public lighting in an area which has a connected load of 3134.25 MW with the more energy efficient LED technology, we can accrue savings of nearly 1484.25 MW in the connected load itself. When the plant load factor and transmission and distribution losses are taken into account, this value equates to a generation capacity avoidance of nearly 2300 MW in power plants. In this case, shifting to LED technology and incorporating operation modes such as dimming and twilight switching control has an annual saving potential of nearly 8234 MUs.

    By shifting conventional public lighting technology to LED technology, there is a potential reduction of 6.4 MT of equivalent carbon emission and a potential avoidance of 14.8 MT of equivalent carbon emissions at the generation level. The monetary value of reduced carbon emissions (6 euro per tonne) is INR 6.2 billion.

    Safe movement of pedestrians and vehicles
    Deterrent to crime, particularly against women.
    Creates feeling of safety among citizens
    Extends time available for recreation and entertainment
    Visual comfort and orientation and better quality of urban life

    Reduction in energy demand and improved energy balance
    Reduction in operation and maintenance costs with longer lifetimes
    Improvement in urban tourism
    Extends hours of business and thus contributes to hospitality & tourism industry

    Lower energy consumption reduces pollution and emissions in generation
    Lowered carbon footprint
    Minimised light pollution and sky glow

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