Since 2021, Sibelga has been installing "smart" LEDs on its public lighting network. Remote controlled and able to communicate on their operating status in real time, smart lights are revolutionising public lighting management.

By early 2024, almost 17,000 bulbs out of a total 90,000 had already been replaced, representing around 20% of the lighting in the Brussels-Capital Region. And the pace is increasing, at a rate of 8,500 lights a year. There is a clear objective of 100% smart LED lighting by 2030.

Smart LED lighting not only delivers significant energy savings, it also improves the quality of city lighting. This step forward contributes to the safety and well-being of all Brussels residents.

The energy transition requires better management of all the available resources, including public lighting.

Inne Mertens, Managing Director of Sibelga

Connected lights

Smart lights are equipped with what we call a controller. It is a small cylindrical box about 8 cm in diameter that communicates and receives information. Most of the time, this small sensor is positioned directly above the light and is therefore virtually invisible from the ground. 

Controllers communicate either via existing GSM networks (4G), or via a radio frequency network. In the latter case, an antenna must be installed to relay data to and from the controller.

It should be noted that they communicate only when they are working. In other words, for a few minutes in the evening and at night. All the lighting managed by Sibelga is completely switched off during the day!

Sustainable resource management

Unlike in the past, when management was more global (by district, for example), remote-controlled lighting allows the precise adjustment of each light. Dimming allows us to adapt light intensity to the needs of each zone.

For example, lights can be dimmed between 10pm and 6am other than at pedestrian crossings and high-traffic areas. Fine-tuning to the millimetre can generate up to 10% additional savings.

Sensors can also be used to adapt light intensity to the movement of pedestrians and cyclists in real time. A pilot experiment is being carried out in Molenbeek.

By switching to LEDs and fine-tuning the programming of each light, Sibelga is aiming to save 35% of the energy consumed by municipal street lighting by 2030. The savings for the 19 municipalities would be in the region of 3,600,000 euros per year, with a reduction of around 3,660 tonnes of CO2 per year.

A circular approach

We are implementing a targeted replacement approach to accelerate the installation of smart LEDs while controlling the costs inherent in light replacement.

This approach consists of preserving the light's outer casing and replacing only the part that incorporates the bulb. Retrofitting is the preferred solution for older lights, given their historical value and the much higher cost of new fittings.

This is the case, for example, on Place Royale, where the period lights are gradually being transformed with connected LEDs.

Digital mapping

We are also constantly working to improve the management of street lighting outages. We have now digitally mapped the entire street lighting network, lamp by lamp. The entire fault tracking and resolution chain has also been digitised.

  • Faults can be detected automatically by smart lights.
  • A new application allows you to report faults in detail.
  • Our technicians are directly informed on their tablet of any problem.
  • Improved integration with the FixMyStreet.Brussels platform facilitates communication with municipalities and the Region.