Territory sees the light about LEDs, turning on to a more efficient future

City-making need not always involve grand visions but can also include discrete practical upgrades to make our city more liveable, sustainable and safer. One is focused on comprehensive plans, while the other is more nuanced.

Take for example the ACT government's recent initiative to upgrade streetlights in Braddon, Griffith and Kingston to LED lights, and earlier retrofits along Northbourne Avenue and Anthill Street near Dickson.

Over the past five years, LED streetlights have gone from something that cities dream of having to what is now fast becoming a municipal standard. The fact that Canberra is not a laggard is something that should be applauded.

 These streetlights are more energy efficient and roads look brighter with less light pollution. Yet there's further potential to the humble LED streetlight—they can also be smarter.

 In cities like Los Angeles, where over 140,000 streetlights have been converted to LED lights, each light is linked wirelessly to the Bureau of Street Lighting, allowing the city council to monitor whether lights are on, off, or not working.

 There's more, some of these streetlights have small cell 4G LTE wireless technology and are able to provide free and low-cost broadband coverage to residents, tourists and businesses across the city.

 Innovative streetlight upgrades and infrastructure to bridge the digital divide are just two of the many prospective opportunities where government can work with industry to renew our city.

 For example, by cleverly allowing deductions on lease variation charges for offsite and associated works in urban renewal projects, industry becomes a partner and advocate in the government's city-making agenda.

 It means that the tangible benefits of these improvements belong to the community and the provision of community upgrades are a direct result of the development project itself. This in effect shifts the financial and delivery risk from the territory and taxpayers to industry.

 Better technology and data are enabling designers, planners and developers to transform cities into environmentally friendly, fun and beautiful places to live and work.

 Let property renew our city.

First published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 2 April 2016