Photo via Johnny Jet via Flickr CC
In a first for Britain, Coventry - a city in West Midlands - is spending £250 million over the next 25 years to convert all 28,000 of its street lights to work on city-wide dimmer switches. Each of the lights will be connected to a central control room that allows computers to turn lights up or down. The more dangerous or busy areas of the city can have lights turned to full brightness, or dimmed down during quiet hours. The sum effect is expected to save money, greenhouse gas emissions, and cut down on unnecessary light pollution. But it isn't without some controversy among city residents. The Telegraph reports, "Coventry City Council hope to cut their carbon emissions by 40 per cent and reduce energy bills. But residents are already concerned that when lamps on suburban streets are turned down, the elderly and families could be put at risk. Others warn that turning up lights will leave them unable to sleep at night."
While the concerns are somewhat valid, we have to keep in mind that there are lots of elderly people living in places that don't have street lights at all, and they do just fine - somewhat dimmer lights at certain times of the night or year likely won't have that harmful of an effect. And in terms of sleeping less soundly, one word: Curtains.
Ken Taylor, leader of Coventry City Council, said, "Like a lot of people I have got dimmer switches in my home. Now we will soon have one that covers all street lights in the city too. It means we can turn areas of lighting down, or up, as required. For events in the city centre we can turn them up but at 3.30am on a Tuesday morning for example we can also turn them down - saving power and money."
Smart moves around the globe for solving street light energy issues include one small town in Germany allowing residents to turn the street lights on or off via mobile phone, Los Angeles is retrofitting its street lights with LED bulbs, parts of Baghdad benefit from solar powered street lighting.
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