Section 5: Electrical and Lighting Management Systems

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Master lighting plans allow for full benefits to be derived from modern electronic monitoring and control systems known as electrical and lighting management systems (ELMS). This technology can help detect lighting problems more quickly and accurately than traditional methods. The maximum benefit is most likely realized when the technology is applied across the entire lighting infrastructure within a local authority’s inventory. Remote monitoring technology can modernize the management, operation, and maintenance of the street lighting infrastructure. Current methods used to monitor and control street lights are often underdeveloped and generally in need of modernization.

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The costs of introducing the technology are difficult to estimate without significant evaluation, and this has led to concerns over initial investment costs, running costs, and anticipated payback on investment. It is important that such evaluations consider a whole system approach and also how remote monitoring might be progressively used and specified for new lighting schemes and for installations requiring additional or extraordinary monitoring and control.

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The benefits of ELMS are outlined in the following table.

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More efficient contract management

Contracts can be written to pay for maintenance by the month instead of by each part repaired or replaced. Percent of luminaires burning can be verified electronically through ELMS, thus reducing contract management costs.

Improved electrical safety and reliability

ELMS provides for ground fault detection and notification of system malfunction.

Energy savings

Energy saving lighting curfews are facilitated through remote or automatic control of lighting systems.

Reduced maintenance costs

ELMS facilitates better advance knowledge of problems, parts needed, and types of personnel needed. This results in better overall contractor information and supervision of maintenance work.

Reduced life cycle costs

ELMS can provide the information and documentation needed to write better specifications and modify approved products lists, thus lowering maintenance costs and improving reliability.

The recent avalanche of technical advances is about to bring a wave of new technologies to organizations that operate and maintain street lighting systems. If used smartly, these technologies have the potential to improve service quality, lower maintenance costs, increase productivity, and conserve energy. But the implementation of new technologies also holds risk because of technical and commercial complexities. The key to reducing this risk is to make the new technologies compatible with existing systems, and to ensure that the systems of different suppliers are interoperable.

Master lighting plans and ELMS allow coordination, through the traffic management centers, of all interested subjects and parties including cities, department of transportation personnel, police, special events, traffic management, state and local ordinances, landscape lighting, landscape installation (especially trees), landscape maintenance, pedestrians, cyclists, and central business district interests.

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Benefits of ELMS Standardization

Interoperability and compatibility standards for ELMS results in four significant benefits, as outlined in the following table.

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Reduction in the complexity of integrating systems

This translates into lower risk of implementation delays and fewer resources required for system installation and introduction.

Creation of more open and competitive market

Proprietary technologies tend to lock buyers into single-source supply arrangements. Such arrangements give the incumbent supplier undue leverage in future purchases and make substitution of non-performing suppliers expensive. Standardization discourages this tendency.

Allowance for the mixing of systems from different suppliers

Various systems have their own strengths and weaknesses, given the differing situations in which they are used. If a buyer wishes to implement a system with “best of breed” components, then interoperation and compatibility between these components make that possible.

Evolution through open participation in which all views are considered

Due process through a public forum ensures validation and utility of the underlying technologies.

Interoperability and compatibility standards lead to a more competitive environment for suppliers. However, suppliers benefit from standards as well. In general, buyers are suspicious of single-source market conditions, and therefore simply delay purchases until a competitive environment has evolved. History has shown that the establishment of standards accelerates adoption of new technologies and causes the market to expand more rapidly.

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