How to create urban systems that are more sustainable and safer for its citizens?

Have you ever been afraid of crossing a street when it is already dark? Do you wonder if the car will be able to see the crossing lanes in time and slow down?

That was a common worry from the citizens of the Kanaleneiland district in Utrecht, Netherlands. So, they came up with a solution: a pedestrian crossing that lights up when walked on.

The pilot project Smart Street Lighting Utrecht, installed in June 2021, detect pedestrians, measure car speeds, and communicate with the pedestrian crossing; When crossed, it lights up. A LED light shines in blue or orange color signaling the traffic activity to the pedestrians. Further, the smart poles have sun-charged batteries and air and noise quality meters.

In the surrounding area of this crossing, 50 other lampposts were equipped with new LED lighting and sensors that automatically report a broken lamp or whether the light pole is askew, improving maintenance. The lamppost also have smart controllers that increase light intensity or switch them on earlier. Together with the luminescent pedestrian crossing, the whole region had its light system upgraded for safety and sustainability.

This pilot in Kanaleneiland district was launched by the municipality of Utrecht in the context of the IRIS project. In the IRIS project different European cities work together with the common goal of creating the sustainable urban city of the future.

This pilot has received plenty of attention and interest from other municipalities interested in applying this technology to save energy and make people safe. Specifics on how the municipality of Utrecht did it and the results from implementation are of particular interest. Being part of a European project as IRIS can help a lot on a faster rollout for other cities in Europe.

Solutions from citizens

The design for the new smart street lighting was done by the residents of the urban district themselves. The involvement of citizens in the creation and development of solutions is especially important for IRIS, and the success of any smart city solution.

As in Kanaleneiland, a successful pilot involves finding out the issues that a particular region is facing and developing solutions together with the district and its citizens. Involving residents in the design process results in solutions that more closely reflect their wishes and therefore are much more likely to be embraced by residents.

With the pilot project Smart Street Lighting Utrecht, the Municipality gains experience with the first luminescent pedestrian crossing ever installed. This project will be evaluated in a few months by asking pedestrians and passing traffic for their experiences with the pedestrian crossing.

Would you like to see how this pedestrian crossing and the smart poles work and how they were established?

Watch the film here:


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