A New York-based startup called EnGoPlanet has installed four streetlights in a plaza off the Las Vegas Strip that are powered exclusively by solar and kinetic energy. The installations aren’t mere streetlights though—they also power a variety of environmental monitors, support video surveillance, and, for the masses, offer USB ports for device charging.
The streetlights are topped by a solar panel crest, and have “kinetic tiles” on the ground below them. These panels reportedly can generate 4 to 8 watts from people walking on them, depending on the pressure of the step. The renewable energy is then collected by a battery for use at night. The solar-plus-kinetic energy design is useful on those rare Vegas days without too much sun—as long as there is still plenty of foot traffic.
The four streetlights have a host of sensors that collect information, and details on what kind of information is collected are sparse. In EnGoPlanet’s promotional video, a quick slide lists the streetlights’ additional capabilities: environmental monitoring, air quality monitoring, video surveillance, and the ever-vague “smart analytics.” If the bright side of progress is more environmentally-friendly streetlights, the dark side is that as you replace those old analog streetlights you get the addition of video surveillance from a private company.
The streetlights also double as Wi-Fi hotspots. According to Clean Technica the color of the LED lighting can be changed with the season or for a local event.
EnGoPlanet says municipalities spend $40 billion to power streetlights around the globe, and powering them by traditional means results in 100 million tons of carbon dioxide CO2 per year. That’s not a whole lot when you consider that in 2014, US energy consumption produced 5.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (and that’s not including the rest of the world). But, it’s a start.