LightMySTL

Help Us Light the Way to St. Louis’ Future

Downtown St. Louis is leveraging some of the most advanced SMART city technology as part of a monumental, community-wide endeavor called #LightMySTL featuring state-of-the-art wireless and lighting technology—some of which is already deployed along Market Street.

But we need your support to further develop this state-of-the-art network of 2,300 Internet-enabled smart LED lights that:

  • brighten streets and sidewalks
  • remotely adjust brightness to near daylight levels
  • have decorative LED strips that change color instantly for special events such as Cardinals/Blues games, St. Patrick’s Day or July 4th.

Help make St. Louis safer, smarter and more beautiful by contributing to the community-wide effort to

 

**All donations are tax-deductible.

For more detailed information and answers to frequently asked questions, please see our FAQs below.

For additional questions or concerns, please contact lightmystl@downtownstl.org.

What is #LightMySTL?

#LightMySTL is a community-driven effort to improve public safety, enhance the urban experience for residents, workers and visitors to Downtown St. Louis, and reduce maintenance costs by upgrading approximately 2,300 cobra head street lights. The initiative will incorporate internet-enabled smart* LED lights to brighten streets and sidewalks, requiring only a third of the power of current bulbs and lasting up to 10 years. The new smart city lighting system enables the City to remotely raise the lights’ brightness and change the color of the decorative LED strips for special events such as Cardinals or Blues games, St. Patrick’s Day and more.

How did the #LightMySTL initiative come to be?

#LightMySTL was born out of the community’s desire and need to make Downtown St. Louis more vibrant and ultimately safer. The idea for upgrading the lighting system Downtown was first raised at a meeting Downtown STL, Inc. organized in early January 2015 at the SLU Law School with the Mayor, Police Chief and business leaders to discuss practical solutions to address crime in Downtown St. Louis. In September of 2015, Downtown STL, Inc. developed a vision for the project, called #LightMySTL, and formed an action committee to move forward with the effort.

Thanks to input from various Downtown stakeholders representing residents, businesses, law enforcement, city officials and lighting experts, the committee settled on a plan to develop a customized lighting solution that would address the needs of the community at large.

Why replace the existing street lights in Downtown St. Louis?

St. Louis’ existing cobra head street lights use high-pressure sodium halogen lights that waste a tremendous amount of electricity. The existing lights produce an amber or yellow glow that isn’t as bright as the white light emitted from an LED bulb. Additionally, the existing lights make it difficult to distinguish colors and shapes on video footage which can be crucial in criminal investigations.

How is the new LED smart lighting system different from what we have now?

This new smart city lighting system will differ from the existing cobra head light fixtures in three ways:

Safer: The new custom-designed smart city lighting system has a feature that allows the city to temporarily increase the illumination to near-daylight levels when helpful, such as when a large event ends and people are walking to their cars. Unlike standard light fixtures, this system illuminates both the sidewalk and the street, making our sidewalks safer for pedestrians at night.

Smarter: The smart city lighting system uses edge computer processing* and wireless communication allowing the lights to be controlled and monitored in real time, creating one of the largest IoT* networks of its kind in the U.S. The system will also feature the first patented tunable light* in the United States.

More vibrant: A weatherproof light strip will be added to the neck of each fixture which can change to any color wirelessly on command to “decorate” Downtown for any and all occasions.

Where will the new smart lighting system be installed?

The new lighting system will be installed on “cobra-head lights”* within Downtown St. Louis, bounded by the Arch Grounds on the east, Jefferson on the West, Cole on the North and Chouteau on the South.

How will the new smart lighting system make Downtown St. Louis safer?

The new smart lighting system illuminates both the street and the sidewalk. The City has the ability to power up the lights to near-daylight brightness during late-night hours, as appropriate while law enforcement will have the ability to raise lighting levels in response to incidents.

Perhaps most importantly, the lighting system features cameras which communicate directly with the St. Louis Police Department in real time.

How will #LightMySTL promote economic development in Downtown St. Louis?

#LightMySTL will stimulate the St. Louis economy in two ways:

1. Following the initiative, the city expects to see more visitors to Downtown St. Louis, especially in the evening hours. More frequent visits mean more business for local restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues, ultimately boosting the economic livelihood of the city.

2. The #LightMySTL initiative will be the largest smart IoT network of its kind in the United States, making our city attractive to companies interested in showcasing their technologies in a real-world, urban environment.

How will the new lighting system make Downtown St. Louis a smart city?

The new system features edge computer processing, complete with bi-directional communications which allow the city to completely control the system remotely. The light system forms an encrypted mesh network that is capable of connecting with other electronic smart devices such as environmental sensors, video devices, parking sensors, public WiFi, and digital electronic message boards that could replace vinyl street banners.

All of this is possible through a key innovation that was developed using Labyrinth Technologies’ patented Universal Smart Infrastructure Power and Modular Mounting Solution* which solves a critical problem when deploying smart city technology. This power converting feature converts the high voltage power of the existing street light system down to a level that can power smaller electronic devices, as well as provide locations for mounting smaller smart devices, simplifying future deployment.

How will the new lighting system make Downtown St. Louis more beautiful?

The signature element of the lighting system is a bright, waterproof light bar on the cobra head that is capable of changing to any color wirelessly, the first of its kind in the United States. This will allow the city to decorate Downtown for key occasions: red to celebrate the Cardinals, blue to celebrate the Blues, pink for breast cancer awareness, green for St. Patrick’s Day, purple for Mardis Gras, red, white and blue on the 4th of July, and so on.

Who is developing the technology for the new smart lighting system?

Because an off-the-shelf solution did not exist to accomplish the #LightMySTL objectives, a local St. Louis start-up company, Labyrinth Technologies, was born out of the planning efforts. Labyrinth Technologies, headed by St. Louisan Ted Stegeman, secured a combination of 17 patents, copyrights and trademarks on the innovative technology it developed to actualize #LightMySTL.

How do we know the system will work?

During the fall of 2017, Downtown STL, Inc. deployed 135 lights using the new smart city lighting technology along Market Street from the Arch grounds to Jefferson to conduct a year-long field test of the custom-designed lighting system to ensure functionality before deploying the system throughout Downtown St. Louis. It was a success.

How long will the lights last?

The bulbs should last well over a decade before needing to be replaced. The electronic components of the system are backed by a ten-year warranty, covering parts and labor. Because the system runs on smart technology, it can be maintained to maximize the life of the system and address any problems before they arise. Just like cars now tell drivers when they need maintenance, the new smart city lighting system will do the same.  

How is the #LightMySTL initiative funded?

#LightMySTL is supported through private donations. Downtown STL, Inc., a 501c6 organization, has launched a fundraising campaign to encourage individuals, businesses and philanthropic organizations to join in support of the community effort. While contributions of any amount are welcomed, we encourage the adoption of individual street lights for $2,000, with the goal of having all 2,300 lights sponsored.

If I adopt a light, will my name or business be indicated on that light pole?
No. The lights and poles are owned by the City and it has been determined that affixing a plaque to the poles would be a complicating factor in maintaining the light poles. Funders who adopt a light will be recognized on LightMyStL.org and social media shout-outs @LightMyStL.

Why doesn’t the City of St. Louis pay to upgrade the lights?

This lighting system goes above and beyond traditional city lighting—in any city. The City of St. Louis does not have the financial resources to invest in upgrading the existing street lights to this smart city system. Due to the density of businesses, residents and visitors, we believe that Downtown will greatly benefit from this smart city infrastructure, so we are raising the money through private donations.   City officials have partnered with us to ensure that #LightMySTL is a successful collaborative effort.

Who will own the lights?

The City of St. Louis owns the street light system within the city limits of St. Louis. Downtown STL, Inc. is raising private donations to install this new smart city lighting system and donating the lights to the City of St. Louis, along with a 10-year warranty on parts and labor. The city will continue to be responsible for maintaining the light system and has an agreement with Downtown STL, Inc. to be responsible for controlling the color of the decorative light strips.

How much will it cost to complete #LightMySTL?

This project will cost approximately up to $4.6 million to deploy the smart city lighting system throughout Downtown St. Louis (the area bounded by the Mississippi River on the East, Jefferson Avenue on the west, Chouteau on the south and Cole on the north). This is an estimate due to the ongoing development in Downtown St. Louis, which sometimes results in the removal of cobra headlights and the installation of pedestrian lighting. This estimate is based on replacing the existing 2300 cobra headlights with the new smart city lighting system within the boundaries noted above.

How can I support #LightMySTL? - NEED INFO

You can support #LightMySTL by making a financial donation to the #LightMySTL fund. You may make a donation of any amount here or Adopt-a-Light for $2,000.

How long will the #LightMySTL project take? When will it begin and when will it be complete?

The goal is to kick off the first phase of installation in 2019 and complete the project by the end of 2020, which is dependent on meeting fundraising goals. The deployment will take place in four $1 million dollar phases which include approximately 500 lights per phase.

#LightMySTL Tech Term Glossary

Internet of things (IoT):
The “internet of things” (IoT) refers to the interaction of physical devices (vehicles, buildings, and other items embedded with network connectivity) which enables them to collect and exchange data.

Smart city:
A smart city is a subset of IoT (internet of things) that is focused on providing data that allows citizens to interact with the city around them. Smart cities also allow the city to report information back to public works departments, law enforcement and other officials on the states of various infrastructure components for more efficient maintenance and control. The data provided by these systems allows cities to cut out inefficiencies and promote economic development.

Edge computing:
As it relates to the #LightMySTL initiative, edge computing means that each light fixture operates similar to a computer, collecting and processing data onsite as opposed to being routed and processed in a central location. Edge computing makes technology more secure and versatile.

Tunable light:
A tunable light is controlled wirelessly (tuned) to adjust its color or intensity. This is an important safety feature that allows the city to adjust the light intensity and color so it can be powered up to near-daylight brightness and then powered down, for example when a crowd has dispersed. Law enforcement experts believe that by raising lighting levels at key times, a community can reduce crime.

Universal smart power and modular mounting:
All devices need power, and the cost of running separate circuits to hook them up is expensive. This feature enables the line power of the street lights to be tapped from behind a light on existing light poles without the need to run a new circuit. This fundamental design feature saves money and time, providing locations and power for mounting many smaller smart devices, simplifying their deployment in the future.