Public lighting will cost Prague twice as much. Safety must also be taken into account

Jílové u Prahy recently decided to try a relatively progressive step. As part of savings, they have reduced the public lighting here, which is now switched off from one to four in the morning. Three unlit watches drain up to 650,000 crowns less from the municipal coffers annually. For the locals, this means two things. Officers, who are not yet reporting an increase in crime due to the darkness, are patrolling a little more closely. And the locals go for night walks equipped with flashlights.

Prague overshot
The Metro newspaper turned to municipal councilor Jan Chabra, whose responsibility is public lighting in the capital. We were interested in how much the city pays annually for public lighting and whether any investigation is expected in this direction in the future, for example in the form of the mentioned limited lighting. According to Chabra, the current situation with public lighting costs is really not good. Compared to last year, Prague will pay almost twice as much for the electricity consumed by Prague lamps.

“Lighting intensity is determined by the standard, because less light can have negative effects. It could be, for example, an increase in accidents or an increase in crime. Therefore, it is necessary to regulate carefully and sensitively,” he explains to the Metro Chabr daily.

An example, according to Chabra, can be monuments that light up two hours less. “This will save us about two million. But we will continuously save, by replacing sodium discharge lamps with LED lamps. They can already regulate the intensity,” adds Chabr for Metro.

Which lamp is which
The people of Prague have long been complaining about the municipality’s inefficiency in terms of public lighting in Prague. But its administrator – the municipal company Technology of the City of Prague (THMP) – claims that it is saving where it can.

“THMP manages public lighting, which is owned by the city. It does not manage the lighting of covered parking lots, parking garages, campus lighting of companies, sports grounds, shopping centers, street lighting in some development projects, and the like. If there are reservations about these systems, suggestions should always be directed to their specific owners or managers,” explains THMP vice-chairman Tomáš Novotný at the introduction to the issue. All kinds of light sources are currently used in public lighting systems in Prague. Until now, the least economical high-pressure sodium discharge lamps, which we know mainly from street lighting, prevail. In small quantities, fluorescent lamps, halogen discharge lamps and special light sources, such as Praguers know from, for example, subways.

To replace or not?

  • We also come across places in Prague, for example underpasses under roads, where the lights are on non-stop, even though the underpass is short and is sufficiently illuminated by daylight during the day.
  • Deník Metro also turned to the Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR), which in the past worked, for example, on the analysis of Prague’s subways, with a request for information. As an example, we used the underpass near the Roztyly metro towards the curling hall. The local lighting mode is a mystery to many readers of the Metro newspaper. For a while there was light during the day, for a while it wasn’t.
  • According to the IPR, most subways are designed in such a way that they are also lit during the day for the sake of safety inside.
  • “For the burden on the environment, it can sometimes be more gentle to keep the existing equipment than to remove the old one and replace it with a newly manufactured one, if we also take into account the impact of the production of the new one and the disposal of the old one. However, we do not currently have a simple tool to assess this, even though we know it exists. However, we assume that for public lighting, the gradual replacement of sources is on the way, and more efficient ones will be installed in any case,” comments Marek Vácha from IPR for Metro.

Currently, Prague is systematically switching to lighting based on LED technology. “It is necessary to realize that old lighting systems based on discharge light sources are practically impossible to regulate, it is only possible to turn them on and off. Historically, the lighting shines in two possible modes. Either in the so-called VO mode, which means that the entire lighting system, including distribution, is without voltage during the day. And only depending on the time of sunset, the entire switchboard is switched on. This is how the streets are especially lit up,” describes Novotný.

The second possible mode is continuous power supply. This is applied in the lighting of public spaces without daylight, such as subways and tunnels.

“It is also used in new systems with LED lamps, where the switching does not take place at the switch-on point, but directly in the lamp or the control and communication unit connected to it. Even in this case, the possibility of lighting regulation must be considered already in the project phase,” adds Novotný.

Slow progress
So the solution is easy. If the public lighting manager believes in continuing to implement smart technologies, let him install LED lights everywhere as soon as possible. However, according to Novotný, the whole process is going much slower than THMP employees would like.

“Some may think that the introduction of LED lighting in Prague is slow, but the gradual expansion has its technical and especially financial reasons. The first generation of LED lights, which were tested in Prague, had many shortcomings and often did not even last until the end of the warranty period. Each manufacturer followed its own specific path and the level of standardization in this field was low. This would cause huge difficulties with service and provision of spare parts in case of massive use. That is why it was necessary to proceed with the replacement of light fixtures with professional care,” recalls Novotný.

When modernizing public lighting, it is therefore not a matter of simply replacing the light fixture. According to Novotný, in order to take advantage of all the advantages that LED technology offers and for it to really be beneficial, a number of changes that cannot be seen at first glance need to be made. “In many cases, the restoration of lighting fixtures takes place together with the restoration of the cable network and the replacement of masts. This year, around two hundred million crowns have been earmarked from the city’s funds for renovation and modernization,” Novotný confided to Metra.

Norms and history
How it is lit in the city is also given historically. To put it simply, the lighting manager is guilty of the fact that a particular system, which may have been created according to now-outdated standards, is waiting for the end of its useful life (more in the box above). New lighting systems are already based on valid Czech and European standards and other binding regulations. “Currently, it is also based on the new Public Lighting Concept for Prague, which was developed for the city by a team of experts,” points out Novotný.

If there is any doubt as to whether the lamps are lighting correctly, the complaint can be reported to the THMP dispatch. All devices have labels with registration numbers or even QR codes for this purpose. How quickly the fault is resolved depends on the degree of severity. In the case of the most fundamental malfunctions, which could endanger the health or property of Prague residents, service technicians must start work within thirty minutes, in the case of moderate ones within twenty-four hours, and in the case of at least five days.

The article is in Czech

Tags: Public lighting cost Prague Safety account

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