Mobile Future

Seems Like Street Lights Glowing

Last April, former Vice President Al Gore said that America has “the most competitive wireless industry of any nation in the world.”  A comment on the trillion texts we sent last year?  The 2.2 million minutes of phone calling?

Regardless, there’s an aspect of wireless service even closer to Mr. Gore’s heart and that’s using the technologies to create a greener economy.  We’ve written on this issue before but now comes a remarkable demonstration of wireless-inspired energy savings from a small town in Germany.

According to BusinessWeek, the town of Dörentrup is saving one-third of its annual electric bill for streetlights through wireless innovation:

A resident dials a number posted on a lamppost. The call goes to a computer at the power company. The caller taps in a code number, also posted on the lamppost, which prompts the computer to send a signal back to a wireless modem that switches on the lights in that area. The whole process takes two seconds.

The idea is that streetlights don’t have to be on throughout the night, particularly if no one’s there.  The German company that created the technology says that it only makes sense in areas where lights need to be turned on fewer than four times a night.  That disqualifies Broadway but for local governments looking to save money and help the environment, “wireless streetlights” may be a promising step forward.