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Smart street lighting in Brussels: a state of affairs

16 June 2020

A lot can be done with remotely controlled street lamps: dimming or increasing according to the brightness at the time, connecting motion detectors, remote controls, etc. Thought is also being given to this in the Brussels-Capital Region.

Detecting movement thereby led to a test on bicycle paths at the Porte de Ninove. This results in brighter light as cyclists approach, which is not only safer for them, but also more energy efficient and better for urban biodiversity.
This test by the regional public service Brussels Mobility on cycle paths at the Porte de Ninove was not convincing, however. Passing cyclists might indeed benefit from greater visibility, but the cameras attracted vandalism. And the gaps in illumination when no-one was passing by turned out not to be conducive to a sense of safety. The investment costs were also rather high compared to the energy savings.

For its part, the municipality of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean worked out a lighting plan, with smart street lighting, both to increase the sense of safety and to deter clandestine illegal fly tippers. After all, intelligent lighting, which responds to human movement, puts these illegal fly tippers right in the spotlight, hopefully with a deterrent effect. And the lighting plan in itself leads to a further practical development: how many lamps will there be, at what location and with what strength, at what times will they switch on and off, etc. In the course of 2021, the municipality will roll out the new lighting and, in addition to increasing the sense of safety, this will also literally put a number of buildings in the spotlight.

The Region is also working on such a lighting plan, as it happens. This should harmonise the lighting infrastructure in the Region, make it greener and reduce costs. In the coming years, this plan will be used as a guide by the various administrations (Brussels Mobility,, Brussels Environment, etc.) in the redevelopment of roads and public spaces (including parks).

Last but not least, at the end of this year the municipal roads will be equipped with 7,000 remote-controlled street lamps, and if necessary with motion detectors as well. Over 1,000 of these are brand new and will be installed this winter. A further 5,700 are existing lights that can be controlled remotely with slight adjustments, and whose light intensity adjusts in line with the darkness.
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