All major cities are implementing a set of smart city applications, which offer cost savings and better engagement between councils and the needs of citizens.

Walking around Smart City Expo in Barcelona it was interesting to see the difference in maturity level between the various applications. Let’s take the top two that people discuss and see how the market landscape can be characterised:

Smart Street Lighting – the older sibling

  • An active market for the last 10 years
  • An established technical name that was derived before everything needed to be “smart” (industry insiders refer to “Central Management Systems” (CMS) rather than “Smart Lighting”)
  • An industry wide API that allows interoperability between vendors
  • A well-established business case that vendors can easily explain

Smart Parking – the new kid on the block

  • A new market that has emerged over the last 3 years
  • The name “Smart Parking” that plays to the smart city hype
  • Proprietary interfaces between different components
  • Vendors searching for a business case which fits the local circumstances

Telensa has been active in lighting CMS since its inception and has seen many positive changes to the industry that now make the case for lighting extremely compelling.

We have also been active in smart parking for the last few years but can see a number of areas where the immaturity of the market is holding back wide spread adoption.

Open standards - all of the major players in smart lighting are members of the TALQ consortium (, which has developed a standard API that enables inter-operability between different vendors’ equipment. This gives buyers the confidence that they will not be locked into a single vendor and enables companies to create partnerships that enable a wider market reach.

Business case – smart lighting started from an interesting but relatively weak business case related to operational savings. As the industry has evolved a clear business case related to energy savings has emerged as a no-brainer. In a similar manner smart parking has relied on a business case related to reducing congestion. It is only now that a clear ROI is emerging which not only enables cost savings but allows cities to generate new revenues. Telensa’s latest developments in this area make the case even more compelling.

Capital - related to business case, many of the new smart lighting deployments are under-pinned by investment from a 3rd party often with an environmental outlook. Although common place today, it took time for the lighting industry to explain the benefits of CMS in a reliable and consistent enough manner to unlock finance.

The smart parking industry is moving faster than lighting did at the same point in maturity so we will soon see a much faster growth in deployments. Beyond parking, Telensa is also working with partners to extend the lessons learnt to applications that will bring even richer benefits to citizens such as in waste management, air quality monitoring and location based services.