In a sign of what modernizing infrastructure means in the Internet era, Silver Spring Networks, which brings IP networking to power grids, will install 75,000 networked streetlights for Florida Power & Light in the Miami-Dade County region, the company said Thursday.
The lights will be linked together with a wireless "mesh" network -- one where data is transferred among its members hop by hop without relying as much on central network equipment to route traffic. The network itself is IPv6 -- the new version 6 of the Internet Protocol that's gradually spreading across the Net, making it easier to attach vast numbers of devices without worrying about using the scarce number of remaining IPv4 addresses.
The reason for the installation: better efficiency and reliability. With network-enabled streetlights, power companies can more precisely control when lights are on or off, and they can quickly detect and pinpoint problems.
The company has been involved in similar projects in Paris and Copenhagen. The work is an example both of the gradual spread of the Internet beyond ordinary computers and smartphones and an attempt to more intelligently deal with electrical power usage.