A different type of Superbloom for LA

Kelsey Kane-Ritsch (kk3395)

  1. Sustainability Problem (Energy and Health and Safety): Los Angeles owns and maintains more than 223,000 electric street lights. Old, standard street lights provide an important service, but they also suck energy and are ubiquitous infrastructure that is underutilized. Between 2009-2020 LA switched almost all of its streetlights to LEDs and saved $11 million in electricity costs and prevented 72,000 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Now LA is ready to transform these infrastructure staples into multi-service hubs.
  2. Solution: LA’s smart street lights, or “Superblooms” as they’re called, provide an opportunity to reconfigure and innovate streetlight design beyond simply providing light.
    • The new lights are described as a “bouquet with extra tubes and arms for features such as shade sails, pedestrian fixtures or solar panels” which will allow streetlights to meet other city demands like EV charging, shading, wayfinding, internet, air pollution monitoring, and more.
    • During the pandemic, LA was able to equip street lights with cell phone equipment and about 3,000 street lights now provide extended 4G and 5G cellular data connectivity to Angelinos.
    • The 5G connectivity of the streetlights will allow for deployment of wifi, sensors, digital signage, extensive data collection, and will ultimately even enable smart cars to communicate with the traffic infrastructure.
    • Data gathered could be used to reveal traffic and pedestrian patterns, periods that require more or less lighting, and even identify communities with the poorest air quality.
    • One potential use of smart street lights that is more controversial is the incorporation of public safety cameras that could be used to help solve crime.
    • Resources: https://www.smartcitiesdive.com/news/a-uniquely-la-streetlight-design-will-soon-illuminate-the-city-of-angels/585017/; https://spectrumnews1.com/ca/la-west/technology/2020/09/10/street-lights-will-play-key-role-in-la-s-smart-city-transformation
  3. Stakeholders:
    • LA Mayor’s Office
    • LA’s Chief Design Officer
    • Bureau of Street Lighting (BSL)
    • Project Room (design studio)
    • LA residents
  4. Implementation: Implementation of the Superbloom streetlights will be slightly complicated by the fact that they are not uniform. First, it will be necessary to identify which street light add-on features are most necessary or desirable in different locations (i.e. perhaps some require a sun shade while others may require an EV charging station). Next, Project Room (Superbloom’s design studio) and LA’s Chief Design Officer will need to work together to design the desired series and locations of lights. Third, a combination of these variations of lights should be piloted in their target neighborhoods to better understand user engagement and feedback before launching across all of LA.

One thought on “A different type of Superbloom for LA

  1. Cool idea! Re: traffic and pedestrian patterns, I feel like I only ever hear about LA’s city planning issues. I wonder how this innovation can be used to curb issues perpetuated by urban planning and, as you pointed out, highlight & address inequities across neighborhoods.


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