Smart pillars and smart corridors will redefine the urban environment

Urban traffic can be managed much more efficiently through smart corridor technologies (photo: CC0 Public Domain)

Global investment in technologies for smart poles and smart corridors in the urban environment will grow from $10.8 billion in 2022 to more than $132 billion in 2030, according to a new forecast by specialist technology analysis company ABI Research. More than 10.8 million smart poles will be installed worldwide by 2030.

“The aging concept of smart cities has largely failed to deliver on its promises. New approaches are needed in the form of more scalable, holistic and efficient solutions to transform smart city infrastructure and accelerate its deployment,” says Dominique Bonte, Vice President Vertical and End Markets at ABI Research. “Smart corridors and smart poles are expected to redefine smart transport systems and smart cities in general.”

Smart poles

Smart poles are multifunctional systems of smart urban infrastructure, built on the basis of smart street lamps. In other words, since street lighting inevitably involves the construction of the necessary infrastructure of poles and underground routes for power supply and service, they can serve many more functions than lighting the streets.

Small weather stations with sensors for measuring air quality, amounts of rain or snow, and noise pollution can be installed on them. Wi-Fi antennas can be installed. Small telecom cells can be deployed for 5G networks. Along with this, it is also possible to install cameras for video surveillance and security, as well as those for counting car traffic. Also, smart road signs can be placed on these poles – ones that dynamically change their content.

Smart street poles can in some cases offer USB chargers for charging small electronics – for use by citizens. In other cases, smart poles can also integrate compact EV chargers so that e-cars parked nearby can be charged from there.

Smart poles represent a “cost-effective, scalable and modular framework for deploying the entire spectrum of smart city infrastructure, ranging from 5G small cells and Wi-Fi hotspots to surveillance and traffic cameras, signs and information displays, solutions for monitoring the quality of air and flooding and charging points for two- and four-wheeled vehicles and drones,” says ABI Research.

It should not be forgotten that small renewable energy generation systems can be mounted on these poles – for example, compact solar panels or compact vertical axis wind turbines. The electricity from these small RES systems can be used to power sensors in weather stations, lighted road signs, cameras to count car traffic, etc.

ABI did not say how much of the $132 billion in question would go to smart poles, but according to another forecast, by ReportLinker, in 2027 the business in question will be valued at nearly $20 billion. All the services that smart poles can offer are of interest to both citizens and various suppliers and producers of goods and services.

Smart corridors

The new concept of smart corridors encompasses technologies for smart roads in the urban environment: interconnected adaptive traffic lights, as well as smart roadside infrastructure allowing the adequate movement of autonomous cars. 5G communications and sensors can be woven into these roadside facilities, powering automated systems for traffic optimization, road safety and sustainable transport over longer distances.

On the basis of these technologies, road arteries with priority for certain types of transport, for example public transport vehicles, can be built. But ABI Reserach goes further and sees even more possibilities. Through the same technology, it is possible to define corridors for the transport of goods and delivery vehicles. This is essential because it will offer the city authorities new sources of revenue.

New partnerships

Given everything described by the ABI, city authorities can also consider new or strengthened partnerships with the private sector when it comes to building smart poles and smart corridors, points out Dominique Bonte. According to him, the telecommunication companies are interested in being a partner of the city administration in the construction of the networks of smart poles. Telecoms can participate with partial funding, expanding their 5G networks. Similarly, the logistics sector is interested in being a partner in the construction of the city’s smart corridors for supplies and freight transport.

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