'Connected' Streetlight Replacement Begins in Syracuse Promising Economic Benefits

Jul 5, 2019

The new LED streetlights (R) don't look too different from the old ones (L). The ciyt has started to replace all streetlights to save electricity and start a citywide connected network.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News / WAER FM

You might have heard about the city of Syracuse plan to convert all its streetlights downtown to high efficiency LED’s with an advanced network connection between them all.  Mayor Ben Walsh confirms the work on that conversion started this week, right on Schedule.  And he continues to tout the benefits of the system. 


The simplest reason is cost and energy savings.  He says once complete, the system will save $3 million in maintenance and electricity.  But the economic benefits could be greater – and help Syracuse to modernize.

“When you look at the future, when you look at the new economy, it’s based on connectivity, it’s based on the internet of things.  So to establish a connected streetlight network across the entire city, which will make Syracuse the most connected city in the United States, it’s sending a message that not only do we intend to compete in the new economy, we really intend to lead in the new economy.”

The network has the ability to do simple things, such as alert city hall when lights are out.  But it can also be utilized for connected services that might interest a business.  That was one of the ways Walsh and his team sold the $38 million cost.  And he says, they’re already seeing reaction to the futuristic plan.

“We’ve had numerous conversations with local tech companies that are excited about the technology.  We would not have had the opportunity to negotiate an agreement for 5-G with Verizon if it wasn’t for us taking this step.  So, yes, the private-sector interest in partnerships have begun to follow and we think will continue to follow this investment.”

If you look closely at the new lights, such as this one on South Salina Street, you can see "LED" which draws significantly less electricity, and should be brighter and more trouble free.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News / WAER FM

The street light conversion is starting on Syracuse’s south reaches, in the Valley, and Walsh says crews will work Northward.  They can change out about three-thousand lights a month … finishing the job next spring.  The so-called “Cobra Head" lights will be switched first … then even the ornamental lights that are downtown and in other areas, will be part of the new LED connected system.

This post was updated with copy corrections.