Street lighting is important to the wellbeing of communities and citizens worldwide.

It contributes to perceptions of safety after dark, and extends the hours that people are able to do certain activities.

In addition, different bulbs, colours and levels of lighting can encourage people to visit certain areas after dark, which can play a significant role in the health of night-time economies.

These are just some of the factors that councils weigh when determining the placement and type of street lighting used.

But another important factor is power consumption - and therefore cost. It is, after all, citizens that ultimately pay for street lighting through their local government contributions. The onus is on councils to ensure that money is well spent.

In some states such as Queensland, councils own the lighting network. They know what assets they have, so power usage and maintenance costs are relatively simple to understand.

Contrast that with Hobart, where street poles and lights are owned by either the City of Hobart or by TasNetworks. Without complete overall visibility over the street lighting network, power and maintenance fees are much more difficult to check.

But this will soon change.

Parking and information officers whose workloads were lighter due to COVID-19 hit the streets of Hobart armed with a smartphone and a brand new artificial intelligence-powered app by a start-up called Ordital, to map the street lighting network and build an accurate database of poles and lamps.

Once completed, the database will help the City keep tabs on its lighting costs. It will also inform the development of longer-term strategies “to save energy, protect wildlife, and provide more attractive and appropriate lighting across Hobart,” Director of City Innovation Peter Carr says.

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