STREET lights that can detect fights and alert police are to be trialled in Scotland’s biggest city.
The new-generation lighting in Glasgow will have sensors on its columns to record noise and movement so disturbances can be immediately fed back to emergency services. The lights will also increase in brightness as noise levels rise, and could be programmed to flash, to guide officers to incidents.
The trial is aimed at increasing safety and saving power, and forms part of the £24 million Future City/Glasgow project to demonstrate how technology could improve urban life.
The sensors can also record air and noise pollution, and how many people are using pavements. The information can then be transmitted to a publicly available website.
Energy-efficient LED lamps will be used, whose brightness could be increased for events such as street festivals and outdoor concerts.
They could also provide low-cost lighting for currently unlit, off-road cycle paths to increase safety and encourage more cycling. Their brightness would increase from 40 per cent to 100 per cent when an approaching cyclist was detected.
Similar power-saving technology is used on escalators on the Glasgow Subway, which run slowly while unused, then increase to normal speed when someone steps onto them.
No locations for the trial have been announced in what is expected to be a Scottish first.
Edinburgh City Council said it had no plans to follow suit. However, the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency said it was examining “dynamic lighting” technology that automatically dimmed lights on trunk roads when there was no traffic.
Campaigners for pedestrians welcomed the Glasgow development, but feared some of its features might be abused.
Keith Irving, head of Living Streets Scotland, said: “This should be a positive experiment.Improved street lighting can help cut taxpayer energy bills and improve safety for pedestrians, making our communities feel safer after dark.
“Sensors providing additional data on footfall, as well as pollution, will help local shops and is essential in supporting our town centres and monitoring the quality of our local environment.
“We would question, though, why these new street lights should automatically get brighter or start flashing in the event of increased noise – that would perhaps only encourage a bit of midnight merriment.”
Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson, who also chairs Future City/Glasgow, said: “Glasgow is proud to be demonstrating innovative ways in which technology can make life in the city smarter, safer and more sustainable.”