Cities require heavy duty infrastructure and this includes underground cabling ñ usually aluminium and copper ñ for telephone and street lighting systems. However, supplying such infrastructure to developing nations would be financially unviable and ecologically damaging.
Developing economies are driven by cities: often huge, rapidly expanding conurbations such as Mumbai in India, S„o Paulo in Brazil and Shanghai in China. These places require basic infrastructure aimed at keeping citizens safe and helping them to make a living.
StarSight is an innovation that provides sustainable urban infrastructure. Based on a solar powered street light, it features a solar powered wireless broadband network, providing internet and telephone connectivity, as well as emergency service communications. These can be delivered citywide without cable laying.
Because the lights do not use standard electricity generated by power stations, it is estimated that 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide are saved per 1,000 street lights per year. This is on top of the saving in electricity charges.
StarSight has been designed with the Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Millenium Development Goals in mind. The UN Goals aim to end hunger, provide universal education, gender equality, child and maternal health, combat HIV/Aids and bring environmental sustainability through global partnership.
In line with these UN Goals, StarSight International aims to make appropriate education packages available through its communication systems. One of their first installations in northern Nigeria is already delivering solar powered internet services to remote schools.
A StarSight network is in operation in Istanbul, Turkey. Designed to be earthquake resilient, each street light features power storage. This means that lighting can continue for up to five days without any sunshine. Because the wireless communication system is self-healing, in that if one part should break down, signals will be automatically rerouted. Emergency communication systems will continue to work in disaster situations.
While the developing world is an obvious market for StarSight, it is hoped that already developed nations, such as the UK, will be taking it up as part of the solar revolution.
Solar-powered street lamps
that also provide wireless internet
Photo: © Starsight International