Schréder’s Smart Lighting Solution Creates Safer, More Sustainable Cities

Hardware lighting manufacturer Schréder saw an opportunity for smart cities and created an IoT-based lighting management system called EXEDRA.

  • Solutions in this case
Executive Summary

Schréder, a leader in public lighting manufacturing, is in the process of digitalizing its services. They saw the potential of centralizing the remote management of urban lighting assets to generate operational efficiencies, reduce maintenance costs and make cities safer and more sustainable.

  • Challenge
  • Approach
  • Results

The Challenge

Schréder coined the term ‘lightability’ as the potential for cities to go digital and improve the quality of life for their citizens, by becoming more sustainable and safer. This includes protecting flora and fauna, monitoring events and threats, limiting light pollution, generating energy savings and reducing their environmental impact. In parallel, Schréder is helping its customers (mainly cities, utilities and systems integrators and installers) to become smarter through digital services.

The primary way to do this is by transforming from a company selling hardware luminaires, to the tele-management of luminaires. This could be achieved through the deployment of Owlet luminaire controllers, which seamlessly connect to the Schréder EXEDRA platform and allow for the remote management of IoT devices. Moreover, with an installed base of lighting infrastructures already in place, they could repurpose existing urban lighting assets in which public authorities have already invested. Part of the challenge was to make this existing infrastructure intelligent.

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The organization recognized early on that a lot of development would be needed in order for Schréder to become a real world leader in smart lighting. For this purpose, Group Schréder decided in 2019 to locate its beyond-light centre of excellence – Schréder Hyperion – in Portugal.

Schréder realized that they needed to find the right solution to serve clients, communities and cities. As such, they adopted an open, interoperable and secure approach to the system architecture. However, achieving this is not always easy, as some vendors adopt a different approach with a lock-in effect.

A search began for partners that would best fit the development philosophy. Microsoft Azure was chosen as a cloud platform as it is a cyber-secure, scalable, cost-efficient cloud solution which can enable other applications, including Machine Learning and AI. Microsoft Azure and IoT specialist Codit was chosen as a software consultant with a vast knowledge of Microsoft Azure.

We are experts in lightability – a word we invented that expresses the potential for clients to go from lighting to smart cities.

Nicolas Keutgen CIO at Schréder

The Approach

With over 10 years of partner history in integrating Azure solutions, Schréder knew Codit’s expertise in this area to be industry-leading. The team of technology experts at Codit responded by helping to build the Schréder EXEDRA platform. This was to be a fourth-generation, end-to-end smart lighting solution: an IoT platform with an integrated Microsoft Azure array of services. It allows access to real-time city assets information, deploying a customizable dashboard which is also able to create reports and tickets.

Through Schréder EXEDRA, city managers can measure the temperature, traffic and weather conditions of urban spaces. As such, Schréder EXEDRA is a scalable solution, allowing cities to impact millions of lives. By creating space for meaningful moments for people in public spaces, they enhance their wellbeing, comfort and security. The data managed by Schréder EXEDRA can be accessed and used for a large range of needs. These include preventative maintenance, remote monitoring of lighting assets, and the creation of light dimming profiles and activation of adaptive lighting features. This can help in specific cases, such as city-wide events. It can also reduce the impact of public lighting over flora and fauna, as well as improve safety and optimize energy usage.

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Schréder EXEDRA is an open and interoperable platform, which will deliver a future-proof solution to city managers worldwide. Codit helped Schréder to achieve this by designing and building the best-suited solution using the latest innovations in Microsoft Azure, such as IoT Hub, Kubernetes & Azure Data Explorer. In this way, the data collected and stored in the Big Data store can be made accessible in each city, avoiding the vendor locked-in effect. This means that information shared between various devices (from different vendors) and the platforms can be integrated into existing platform through an API. Included services would be Azure API Management and Azure Event Grid.

Another important topic is cyber security, as we’re referring to public lighting assets. At the same time, all the intelligence had to be built in the cloud in order to connect the many devices. Consequently, the platform had to be very stable and very scalable. Schréder found that as a mature system with a better foundation than most, Microsoft Azure was the answer. Moreover, Microsoft Azure also enabled Schréder to scale up quickly and in a resilient way. This supports near-zero downtime with an effective High Availability & Disaster Recovery process. It also gives them easy access to Machine Learning and AI capabilities in the future.

Results

In its first year, Schréder EXEDRA has connected more than 100.000 lighting assets. Schréder is seeing more and more interactive ways of using lighting and more potential to reduce their customer’s operational costs. So far, results show that Schréder EXEDRA has helped to lower CO2 emissions, with more than 100 tons of carbon saved per month. Through Schréder EXEDRA, city managers can remotely control streetlights, use AI to predict usage, interact with other sensors and devices in the public space, recognize potential problems and save energy.

Recently, Schréder worked with the City of Valencia to upgrade its public lighting. Their aim was to enhance people’s enjoyment of its many architectural and natural sites, including the diverse ecosystem in the 52,200-acre Albufera Natural Park. Schréder helped the city to upgrade more than 100,000 luminaires and is bringing them all under central control. The Schréder EXEDRA control system allows the city to remotely monitor and manage the lighting infrastructure and tailor lighting scenarios for individual locations. The new smart lighting system has reduced lighting energy consumption by 74 percent, saving €6 million and reducing greenhouse emissions by 80 percent.

To read more about this, check out the Microsoft story here. 

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Schréder Hyperion, in close collaboration with Microsoft and Codit, was able to launch the Schréder EXEDRA smart lighting and smart city platform in September 2020. One year later, hundreds of thousands of nodes had already been connected to Schréder EXEDRA, to the benefit and satisfaction of many clients.

Having been a public lighting manufacturer for decades, Schréder was perfectly positioned to connect with hundreds of thousands of utilities, installers, integrators and city councils. Their needs and wants were taken into consideration in the development of EXEDRA.

In the meantime, cities are discovering the power of Schréder EXEDRA’s IoT and AI capabilities. They are starting to envision new solutions and services which they could implement, and the potential to monitor their assets, reduce operational costs and in some cases create new revenue streams.

Public lighting is now managed in a very interactive way. The lights adapt to local environmental and meteorological conditions and to the presence of people or vehicles (through PIR sensors). This allows for considerable cost reduction. Using less energy also reduces the impact on the environment, which can amount to a massive reduction in CO2 emissions. For instance, in the first months of use, Schréder EXEDRA generated energy savings of 21% per month, leading to a reduction of over 100 tons of CO2 per month. As more cities use the platform, these numbers will increase dramatically.

As technology will evolve very quickly in the coming 5-10 years, solutions need to be adaptable and future-proof. The system architecture developed by Schréder addresses this concern by being open and interoperable.

Looking ahead, Schréder wants to capitalize on the momentum of their first year. Cities around the world are realizing that with increasing numbers of people coming in, there is more pressure to manage their infrastructure and security. The Schréder EXEDRA solution offers a lot of power to streamline this. Now, not only are they considering developing lighting with additional applications, but they’re also studying how cities can reduce the time it takes to find street parking in cities.

This open, secure system that can be personalised to each city, truly seems to have the future in mind.

A word from the client

“Codit was a real part of our team, and we enjoyed a collaborative team spirit. The developers were able to bring us to the level where we needed to be, and as a result we were able to launch our platform within a year.”

Nicolas Keutgen CIO at Schréder

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