Decluttering our streets

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Written by Duncan Nicol, Sales & Marketing Manager- Device Connections

Growing up in the 80s, our streets were a lot less cluttered than today. Bollards were made of concrete with the sole purpose of stopping traffic, street lights where just that, and remember telephone boxes? Back then sophisticated electronic devices were inside while the weather remained outside.

Today, in our increasingly connected world, much of the old street furniture still exists but there is much more of it and packed with electronics. We now have pop-up bollards that let only the worthy pass, illuminated bollards and charging bollards for electric vehicle. Streetlights are more numLED Lightingerous but are increasingly smarter low energy solutions requiring less maintenance. CCTV is everywhere and watching your every turn as predicted in Orwell’s 1984. Billboards are now digital advertising displays competing for your attention at bus stops, on highways and in town centres. The new 5G mobile phone network is designed to satisfy our thirst for data but require many more masts especially in populated areas. The only item of street furniture in decline is of course the humble telephone box which has all but disappeared.

Despite all this technology cluttering up our streets there is good news. Councils are concerned about the increased clutter and this is driving industry to look at integrating more functionality into exiting street furniture. A good example of this is street lighting which can now be equipped with an electric vehicle charger (integrated or retro-fitted) and CCTV cameras. Or the humble street bollard which now combines traffic management, lighting and electric vehicle charging.

Of course this presents new challenges in the way these devices integrate and connect the various technologies together. Connectivity must provide high degrees of IP rating to protect the devices from the elements, and enclosures need to allow for ease of maintenance whilst providing thermal management and protection from the sun and rain. Data connectivity is also an important factor as everything is now connected to the cloud for monitoring, control and preventative maintenance. But where there is data there is the threat of hacking and so street furniture must factor in cyber security.

Our streets are without question becoming more high-tech but hopefully, with clever design and integration, can become less cluttered.

For more information on our design-in service for device connectivity and enclosures from Phoenix Contact please contact Duncan tel: 07799 072059 or email




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