A Small Danish Suburb Is a Lab for the World's Smartest Streetlights

If you happen to drive through Albertslund, Denmark starting next month, you could become part of a massive experiment on the future of street lighting. The Copenhagen suburb is getting hundreds of smart lamps connected to all sorts of sensors. It makes sense this would happen in Albertlunds—a suburb already known for its historic street lamps.

The story goes that back in the 60s designer Jens Møller-Jensen was working for his architect father on a park in Albertslund. The proposed lights were too expensive, he thought, so he took a week and threw together a prototype made from a jam jar, an antenna, and an old traffic sign. You can now find the eponymous Albertslund lamp all over the world, but it originated in this little suburb.

A Small Danish Suburb Is a Lab for the World's Smartest Streetlights

Variations on the Albertslund lamps. Louis Poulsen

You might say the Danish Outdoor Lighting Lab (DOLL) comes out of the same tradition of resourcefulness. The lighting solutions prototyped at DOLL will make their way to Copenhagen, which wants to be carbon neutral in about a decade, and perhaps even around the world like the original Albertslund lamp.

Big cities like New York and Los Angeles are already switching to more energy-efficient LED lamps, but the lights at DOLL go lot further. A 9.2 kilometer, or 5.7 mile, stretch of road is being outfitted with street lamps as well as sensors for "traffic density, air quality, noise, weather conditions and UV radiation," according to New Scientist. Some lamps will brighten or dim depending on lighting conditions and activity. There's also CopenHybrid, reports New Scientist, a mast that gathers solar and wind power to keep the lights on. So far, 25 companies have signed up to use DOLL.

Even aside from street lighting, Albertslund has been on the forefront of cutting emissions. As "living lab," it has also a row of six identical houses that test prefab energy and insulation solutions. And of course, it has one of those amazing bike highways that let commuters bike into Copenhagen. The future of the energy efficient city might just be starting to glow in Albertslund. [New Scientist]

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