Carmen Muñoz
Director General
Citelum
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View from the Top

Light Creates Safer, Sustainable Cities

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 11:43

Q: What impact can lighting have on the social and economic development of a city?

A: Innovation and the development of new technologies has and will further change the role that lighting plays in cities in Mexico and around the world. Lighting can change the way people feel within a city: installing the right light at the right place is an invitation to spend more time outside at night, which then translates into spending more money at hotels, restaurants and stores. This logically improves the local economy. In addition, new technologies now allow us to integrate CCTV into our projects to ensure visitor and citizen safety. The perception of personal safety is directly correlated to the amount of light in an area. To reach these goals, it is important that cities not only upgrade their current lighting: there also needs to be an in-depth analysis to understand the city’s socio-economic patterns so that improvements are optimized based on the goals.

LED lighting also has a huge impact on the volume of energy that streetlights consume, with municipalities generating 50-70 percent of savings by upgrading their lighting systems. In addition to lowering energy consumption, upgrading these systems drastically reduces CO2 emissions. The use of LEDs can also reduce light pollution by strategically placing these lights toward the desired objects instead of the sky.

Q: What types of financial schemes have been most successful between local, state and federal governments?

A: The cost of these projects depend on their size and scope. We have implemented projects from US$10 million to US$100 million. Decisions for most projects are taken at a local level but financial schemes can be diverse. One of the most common schemes in the world are PPPs, as it allows cities to upgrade their systems without having to provide upfront investment, which is one of the main limitations for these projects. Under this financial model, the company designs, builds, finances, operates and maintains (DBFOM) the system for the public client.

Cities around the world are taking the lead against climate change and they want to act now. They need a private partner able to design and lead to success, that provides guarantees that the KPIs will be met and with the experience necessary to provide financing solutions that will allow for a smooth implementation.

Q: How can the private sector benefit from the services Citelum offers?

A: Cities are not the only entities that realize that light and smart services can help them reach their goals. Citelum already works with real estate and tourism developers in Mexico and around the world. We worked on indoor and outdoor lighting projects for large hotels in Puebla. The night landscape in this city allows it to attract tourism and increase its safety. We see more of these projects coming in the next few years and expect them to grow in complexity as technology improves.

Beside Wi-Fi, we also deploy Li-Fi. These light poles integrate technology that functions like a Wi-Fi signal, providing mobile users with information. Citizens will be able to retrieve information in places such as schools, hospitals and touristic areas, by simply connecting to the network. The public and private sector could use light to send information to the public without any interference. We are currently in bidding process in several cities to provide this service.

Q: What are Citelum’s most popular solutions and products in Mexico?

A: Delivering the right lightning, at the right place and through an application, is our priority in Mexico. In the future, the integration of urban services into Smart City platforms could deliver more savings and improve the quality of life of its citizens. With the development of new technologies and issues such as climate change, we anticipate that Smart services will soon play a much larger role in the Mexican market.