Fast Company staff writer Adele Peters highlights the latest major advancements in streetlight technology, including models in Copenhagen , Denmark, that point out empty parking spaces, in Glasgow , Scotland, that measure air and noise pollution, and in Los Angeles that boost Wi-Fi coverage.
The newest of the bunch is designed specifically for Southeast Asia , and can kill mosquitoes, charge cell phones, and issue flood warnings. Eight of these lamps have already been installed at the University of Malaya campus in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as a pilot project. The researchers behind the design hop that the prototypes will eventually replace all streetlights in the region.
At the top of the new Malaysian streetlight, a wind turbine and solar panels gather power, so it's possible for it to work completely off the grid in rural areas. A box on the lamppost attracts mosquitoes by trying to smell like a human: a UV light and titanium dioxide combine to make a little CO2, which is as irresistible to mosquitoes as human breath. Once the insects fly closer to investigate, a fan sucks them in and kills them. Having a network of the lights could help fight dengue fever, a mosquito-borne illness that killed 200 people in the country last year.
The lamps are also valuable in a crises (Malaysia is prone to flooding), and can continue to work if water levels rise:
In a flood—something that's also common in the area—the streetlight can measure the height of floodwater, and send reports and warnings via an antenna. Because all of the electronics are at the top of the pole, and the bottom is waterproof, it can keep working as the water rises. If other power sources go out, people in a neighborhood can walk to a streetlight to plug in their cell phone or rechargeable batteries.