Silver Spring seeks new profits from smart-city infrastructure

Internet-enabled traffic signals, streetlights, and natural gas meters are expensive to deploy. One company hopes selling the technology as a service will help its business.

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Wish your hometown had network-enabled streetlights? A company called Silver Spring Networks does, and Tuesday it unveiled a service designed to make the technology and other networked infrastructure more affordable.

Municipalities that want to network things like traffic lights, parking meters, natural-gas pipe monitors, water-main flow gauges, and public transit status boards now can subscribe to a service under which Silver Spring Networks installs and maintains the network. The option expands the company's business from selling technology to selling a service; that means cities can buy the service with steady payments, rather than a large investment up front to install the technology.

Online streetlights and the like may sound extravagant, but the company argues they're worth the money because they can help pinpoint problems in advance and help cities move more rapidly to energy-efficient control systems.

Silver Spring uses a wireless network with IPv6 technology -- a next-generation Internet addressing scheme. Furthering the concept of the Internet of Things, the company proposes that anything with an electronic pulse can be hooked into the global network.

The company has won over a variety of customers, including several power, gas, lighting, and electricity companies. Copenhagen, Denmark, is bringing the company's technology to 20,000 streetlights, and Paris, France, is using it for streetlights and traffic signals.