World over, governments are making significant efforts to develop smart cities in order to improve the quality of life and help create a sustainable and intelligent environment. Various smart solutions are used in building these smart cities. One such solution is smart poles, which are being increasingly adopted by city planners and governments to create smarter and greener spaces.

Globally, many smart cities have successfully replaced traditional street lights with smart poles. Barcelona, for instance, has fitted street lights with boxes that are connected to computer systems, which can measure traffic and pollution on the roads. Further, the sensors installed on smart poles as well as on the ground help monitor the weather. They also help in measuring rainfall and analysing irrigation levels. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is implementing a plan to replace old sodiumvapour street lights with smart light-emitting diode (LED) poles. About 80 per cent of the project is complete, which means nearly 200,000 street lights have been converted so far. The poles are deployed with 4G long term evolution wireless technology to improve call reception in the densely populated city. These poles alert city authorities during breakdowns, monitor traffic levels and generate analytics on the availability of parking places.

Smart lighting also plays a crucial role in Singapore’s smart transport network, which utilises smart traffic lights, road sensors and smart parking. Further, the state authorities have partnered with a Scotland-based firm to bring light fidelity (Li-Fi) technology to the country. The LEDs being developed not only provide light, but also offer internet connectivity through Li-Fi technology. Meanwhile, in Copenhagen, nearly half of the street lights have been replaced with smart poles. These lights can be controlled remotely and capture data that helps in coordinating other services. For example, smart poles alert municipal authorities if waste bins need to be emptied.

According to an industry report, the global smart pole market size is expected to reach $16.65 billion by 2023, growing at the rate of 19.99 per cent annually bet­ween 2017 and 2023.

The Indian context

The installation of smart poles in India has gathered pace since the government laun­ched its flagship 100 Smart Cities Mission in 2015. Smart pole installations are one of the key focus areas of the various special purpose vehicle companies that intend to provide smart infrastructure. Many cities have started work on the ins­tallation of smart poles as part of the project mainly through public-private partnerships (PPPs).

Smart pole infrastructure can also be leveraged to provide telecom services. This will bring respite for service providers dealing with the strict right-of-way guidelines prevailing across states. Smart poles can also become a revenue generating option for state governments as they can lease out the in built smart pole telecom infrastructure to private players.


Smart poles can serve as smart city nodes capable of capturing the traffic, weather and pollution levels. Several smart cities have already integrated smart poles into their infrastructure. The successful completion of the Smart Cities Mission by 2019-20 is expected to drive the growth of the smart pole market in the medium to long term.