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LOCATION: Saratoga Springs, New York, U.S. CLIENT: New York State Capital District Transportation Committee

TEAM: International Nighttime Design Initiative (NTD), Planning 4 Places

The Municipal Smart City Street Light Conversion & Evolving Technology Guidebook was commissioned to address issues of street light ownership, the streamlining of municipal services, and economic benefits for New York State. Additionally, the convergence of energy-saving, responsive technologies, ownership of data, and infrastructure is being debated across the nation. In parallel, issues of public space equity and social cohesion are in flux.  


The intent was to provide guidelines proposing a unique hybrid of design, policy, technological and social inputs to the growing field of smart cities applications. As cities and towns across the region convert/upgrade their street lights to energy-saving LED, they must consider and balance lighting quality, safety, after-dark social issues, digital infrastructure, and economic considerations.


The guidebook also addresses community engagement, essential for developing trust and on-the-ground knowledge, with a photo narrative about NightSeeing™, an evening program developed by Leni Schwendinger for active learning about illumination and nighttime design.


Planning for smart and responsive lighting technologies opens the door to considerations about expanded digital infrastructure. The range of available applications results in a vast set of options and market promises from parking solutions to gunshot detection.

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International Nighttime Design Initiative (NTD), Planning 4 Places

Case Study, City of Saratoga Springs


With a thriving downtown night-life and historical importance, the City of Saratoga Springs presented an excellent test-case for how to create safe and sustainable nighttime environments through a strategic look at lighting. With additional regional and Northeast case studies, diagrams and images, the guidebook offers context, perspective, and a roadmap for complex decision-making processes.  


The Saratoga Springs’ streets and open spaces contain a mixture of public lighting with an inconsistent collection of light poles and fixtures as well as light sources – sodium, metal halide and LED. Saratoga Springs desired to consolidate the look and feel of their night lighting and connect it to a central system. Committed to sustainability and exploring enabling technologies through their Smart City Roadmap, they can now consider expanded options such as electric vehicle charging, public WiFi, and data collection capabilities to aid safety, transportation, and other service operations.

The International Nighttime Design Initiative (NTD), founded by Ms. Schwendinger, partnered with Planning4Places to complete a Municipal Lighting Technology Guidebook for The Capital District Transportation Committee (CDTC) as part of New York State’s Smart Communities Program.

The Guidebook is free and available to the public.

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