Smart City Management LLC (SCM) was founded in 2014 and is a subsidiary of the Global Green Lighting Holding Company. Our primary purpose is the further development of a patented design concept for converting the valuable vertical real estate created by ordinary “dumb” streetlights into a reliable network hosting platform. It allows the latest technology in wireless broadband telecommunication transceivers and Internet of Things (loT) devices to be easily deployed and upgraded. At the same time, this vertical real estate goes from being a lower-cost fixed operating expense to being a new revenue stream for the owners of the assets. Telecommunications and data harvesting are big industries today, and the vertical real-estate locations of the streetlight is the perfect place for hosting both high dollar revenue streams.
SCM’s founders, Don Lepard and Mack Davis, are practical thinkers with a strong love for God, life and helping others who need a second chance in life. They are true entrepreneurs with a combined 75-year history related to finding simple solutions in the world of evolving electronics and wireless technologies and converting them into thriving businesses.
In the early 1980s, Lepard and Davis participated in the pioneering and market developed of the world’s first cable and Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Electrical Magnetic Interference (EMI) filters, commonly found today on most electronic device requiring FCC 15J approvals.
In 2007, using the gained knowledge for absorbing unwanted frequencies (EMI) with magnetic heat sinks, Lepard developed the first LED streetlights with a passive cooling system to dissipate the high temperatures generated from the first high brightness LEDs.
In 2008, a local utility manager challenged them with the question, “How can we accurately measure and report the actual energy savings for outdoor streetlights lights?” Even today, most outdoor utility-owned streetlights are normally connected directly to the power utility lines while applying only a calculated flat rate for the monthly charges.
It was a good question.
The founders responded by developing the world’s first outdoor long-range wireless lighting control network utilizing existing low bandwidth AMI (Automatic Metering Infrastructure) technology. The network could track inventory, monitor performance, manage higher energy savings using a cloud-based interface to control the on/off and dimming schedules while measuring the actual energy consumption. In real time (every 60 seconds), the streetlights energy consumption was reported directly to the utility-owned smart grid infrastructure and billing system. As a result of their entrepreneurial efforts, there are now multiple high-quality wireless lighting control solutions on the world market today. In retrospect, some might say it was the beginning of a +$100 billion international market known today as the IoT.
In 2011, the world’s first large-scale deployment of award-winning outdoor LED streetlight with wireless lighting controls was deployed with amazing success. It was one of the first ever recorded and documented real-time data collection projects used by a municipality owned utility to better manage its capital assets and energy costs. Most importantly, the new higher-powered LED streetlights with twice as much lumen output compared to the high-pressured sodium (HPS) lights increased public safety by an average of 50% in areas it was deployed.
In 2012, Lepard and Davis stopped giving orders for LED streetlights to its China-based subcontracted manufacturer. Instead, they bought the same production line equipment and moved it to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Long before the larger corporations, an innovative entrepreneur was one of the first companies to bring jobs from China back to the United States. They did it with a high rate of risk for profit loss but knew it was the right thing to do at the time.
In 2012, Lepard and Davis quickly realized the true sustainable value of the outdoor lighting was not in the managing and reporting of low-cost nighttime (non-peak hours) energy savings. In fact, the local municipal owned utility company quickly revealed they were in the business of selling energy for a profit, not for being penalized by the threat of measured and reported 68% lower nighttime energy sales and the 75% lower maintenance costs. They quickly realized the electric utilities would be making a targeted effort to slow down the deployment of LED streetlights because it cut their billable maintenance charges by more than 50%. Their argument was valid; LED streetlights were not the solution to “reducing the nations dependency on foreign energy.” Although their methods for not wanting to move forward with a mass deployment of LED streetlights stung, Lepard and Davis did see the writing on the wall early into their first major deployment and had already started looking for a solution to solve all concerns.
Lessons learned. Knowing the demand for LED lighting was at stake, they searched for and considered, other sustainable solutions the streetlights had to offer besides reduced nighttime energy and lower maintenance costs.
On a cold and crisp February morning in 2012, Lepard found himself sitting outside the office of the City IT director waiting to give a weekly report. He overheard a conversation between the local development director for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Sim Center, home of the supercomputer used to simulate accelerated conditions using input data mathematical calculations. They were concerned with the $4,500 cost to install and provide power and data connection to a $150 air quality sensor that would collect and report data from any poisonous gases in the area. The Sim Center uses the transmitted data, calculates the anticipated direction of the poisonous gas plum and alerts the citizens in harm’s way for the safest evacuation route and advises the first responders for the direction to enter the area.
That’s when the light came on again, figuratively speaking.
As the Sim Center director departed the IT director’s office, Lepard told him that we might have a solution to his problem and to call him in an hour. I walked into the City IT director’s office and presented my solution. If we place a Power Over Ethernet (POE) inside the housing and offer internal and external ports to connect power and data to an air quality filter sensor, the deployment cost would only be the monthly hosting fee and the cost of a bucket truck to plug in the IoT device. The only difference between this good idea and the previous good ideas was that we captured it in a patent application and filed it in June 2012. By October 2013, the U.S. patent office issued a registered patent protection. The only problem we faced was that the wireless network we used for the lighting control offered only enough bandwidth to collect data from lighting control devices and not any other devices. It would take a wireless, high-speed cellular connection to transmit the harvested data from the IoT devices and allow for direct internet access by the end users located within the Wi-Fi range. Although we had protected our IP with a registered U.S. patent, we had to wait nine (9) years until the wireless technology and advanced IoT devices became available to “reach the last mile.”
Smart City Management (SCM) was established in 2014 while waiting on the technology, and the company’s sole mission would be the promotion of the patented design technology. SCM also filed for patent protection in nine (9) other highly populated countries. As of January 2021, the SCM patents are registered in the USA, Mexico, Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Polland and China, which represents more than 60% of the world’s population and where most of the world’s +350 million current streetlights are deployed.
The breakthrough in technology finally happened in 2019 with the announcements by the telecom industry of the rollout of privately owned frequency spectrums within the 5Ghz range, also known as the 5G high-speed connections. This allowed our technology to come full circle and integrate with a variety of IoT devices used for safety (i.e., HD Cameras, gunshot sensors, air quality filters etc..), better traffic management and data harvesting to help build smarter, more connected and safer communities.