Click here to preview the new Fast Company

Want to try out the new FastCompany.com?

If you’d like to return to the previous design, click the yellow button on the lower left corner.

Are On-Call Street Lights More Trouble Than They're Worth?

A cluster of small towns in Germany is testing out a creative solution to the problem of electricity-sucking streetlights: on-call lamps.

The system, which was first implemented a year and a half ago in the town of Morgenröthe-Rautenkran, allows residents to turn on street lamps at night using their cell phones. After 15 minutes, a timer turns the lights off. Other towns, including Döblitz, Dörentrup and Groß Pankow, have also adopted the scheme.

street-light-by-phone

While on-demand lighting seems like a good idea on paper, there are practical issues with its implementation. Residents of Döblitz have to call a phone number to activate the lights, and Dörentrup denizens are required to register with a system and enter a 6-digit PIN each time they use the streetlamps. These tasks may seem easy to the tech-savvy among us, but elderly residents could have trouble figuring out how to turn on the lights — a major roadblock since aging citizens often need light the most.

To make matters even more complicated, the towns of Lemgo, Raden, and Dörentrup require residents to pay for the on-call lighting system. In Dörentrup and Lemgo, light activation costs the same as a cell phone call, but 60 minutes of lighting in Rahden costs the caller €3.50 ($4.65). This poses a problem not only to poor residents, but also to citizens who willingly sacrifice their personal safety to save a few bucks.

Before expanding on-call street lamps to the rest of Germany and the world, perhaps motion-sensors and energy-efficient lighting should be more thoroughly considered.

[Via Treehugger]

Add New Comment

0 Comments