The yellowish tone in the streets of Buenos Aires, due to street lighting, is already part of the history of the city. Almost all arteries and parks are now more illuminated due to the use of LED technology; all its operation can be controlled effectively and efficiently. Just look at a screen and an enlarged image of the city map. You will find thousands of points of different colors that vary according to the state of the smart lights.

Do certain lights work? It is no longer a necessary question for an angry neighbor to notify that his block is dark. Neither for a repair crew to find the error almost by chance, during a blind walk. From the center of the smart street light controller of the city, that information is available in a short time.

One of the main reasons for the change of lights was aimed at saving energy (50%), but the benefits increased while modern equipment was installed. This was shown by some surveys conducted. The residents of the city are satisfied with the new lighting technology, because it gives them a greater sense of security

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The remote control system of the smart lights –monitored by the operators of the Buenos Aires monitoring center– has a very important actor, the node (or antenna, according to the company in charge) located at the top of each light.

The instrument measures the operating parameters of the smart light. That is, it knows when the light is on, off or if it reports a fault. The node sends this “review” to a concentrator that classifies the information according to its relevance. Then, he sends it over the Internet to remote management software, where a map of the city of Buenos Aires is the center of attention.

“In addition to drastically improving the quality of service, maintenance costs decrease since there is precise data that needs to be fixed. It’s not just about migrating to LED lights and that’s it,” said Pablo Servent to LA NACION, executive director of Smartmation, one of the two companies that provide the elements for the smart street light controller. Currently, they are responsible for just over 50,000 units.

According to the record that the company has during this first year –since it won one of the tenders for the project–, the average time to repair faults decreased from 22 to 4.5 days. “And the costs for maintenance tasks were reduced to 35%,” added the director from the support center. Depending on the color that identifies each smart light, its operation can be monitored; although, the government is responsible for the operation of the system from its own control panel. For example, if the light that is located in a certain direction is red, it is an “alarm” about some problem.

The system allows –in the morning and through an automatic report–, to notify each company subcontracted for the tasks of the repair crews in the streets. In contrast to the old yellow lights of sodium technology, technicians now have accurate data of the problems. They do not have to do inspection rounds,” indicates Eduardo Alvaro, commercial director of Signify (former Philips Lighting), the company that works with the smart street light controller of the other LED lights in the city (about 100 thousand).

From the control center, external data can be mixed to “explain” certain anomalies. There may be a construction zone or the lights have been disconnected on purpose. In addition, possible replacements of the smart lights and dimerization of the light intensity can be programmed to reduce costs.

“All of this is part of the Internet of Things; this digital transformation,” explains Marcelo Bertolami to La Nación, general manager of Intel Americas and one of those involved in the architecture of this process. He provided minicomputers that interconnect the subnetworks of the smart lights and process the data that they then send to the monitoring center.

The Buenos Aires City Government had indicated that by the end of April, all the lights of the streets and parks would be LED –La Nación requested updated information on the status of the project, but from the City indicated that there will be an official announcement in the coming days–. In February, according to the latest report, 96% of the street lights (152,548) already had this new technology.

At the beginning of the project, in 2013, there were around 126,000 lights throughout the City. Between new and valuated works would be added more than 30,000 new LED smart lights, according to the commitment announced by the head of government Horacio Rodríguez Larreta. Two months ago, the communes that had completed the refill were 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13 and 15. Adaptation works were carried out in which new columns were installed, the hanging lights were also replaced and those blocks where the lighting was deficient were reinforced.