Blog: Smart city innovation through collaboration

We catch up with John Fox, Managing Director of Lucy Zodion, to discuss smart street lighting, electric vehicles, collaboration with the public sector and why he's attending Smart City Expo.

7 November 2019

Tell us about Lucy Zodion and your role

Lucy Zodion is a company that has been based in West Yorkshire for over 60 years. We are a street lighting and smart city specialist, developing solutions to meet the power distribution, connection and control requirements of street lighting networks.

I have been MD at Lucy Zodion for 15 years, a time of significant evolution for the company. It’s kept us at the forefront of street lighting. Perhaps the most significant step has been a move from manufacturing hardware to also developing the software for intelligent solutions that control street lighting.

How has Lucy Zodion developed expertise in smart tech, and what is your approach to innovation?

Our key focus is ensuring we continue to meet and exceed the growing needs of connected and environmentally conscious communities. In order to do this we have set out a clear roadmap that addresses common challenges; this involves harnessing smart technology.

We innovate new technologies to match the growing requirements of our customers. Local authorities and public sector organisations are looking for solutions that solve their street lighting and wider municipal challenges.

We’ve been developing intelligent street lighting solutions that help city leaders control and manage their entire public lighting network remotely, reducing maintenance and improving efficiencies.

Cornwall was one of the first Councils to use our intelligent system (Vizion) on 53,000 streetlights in 2009. In 10 years the the Council has monitored the success of this system and recently reported that streetlight management has helped save £26 million. These savings result from a combination of LED technology and remote streetlight management, which have reduced carbon emissions by 5,500 tonnes of CO2 a year.

With this experience, we’ve gained further insight into the world of smart cities. The connected lamppost is an integral factor for more responsive cities and, with the integration of the Internet of Things (IoT), a pivotal feature in urban areas. Lampposts can be used to facilitate smart solutions that help enrich communities, while increasing efficiency and control for city leaders. Illumination is just the start.

As the impetus of energy efficiency and data management grows, street lighting as we know it is seeing a huge shift. We remain at the forefront of innovation, developing new products, to enable citywide connectivity, with software solutions that can be installed on existing street lighting infrastructure to gather data affecting the surrounding environment.

How you are transforming lives with tech?

We are transforming lives through technology in many ways. From a business point of view, we are investing heavily in the skills and talent required to move forward with our innovation roadmap. We have a growing team of specialist hardware and software engineers, as well as apprentices gaining experience in software development.

Solutions our team are developing are helping people throughout the supply chain. Our Ki. Smart City Platform (and the enabling technology it supports) is an example of this.

Ki. has been deployed in Aberdeen.  Over 3,500 Ki.Nodes were installed throughout the city, to transform its street lighting network into a smart city ecosystem. By installing Ki. alongside new LED lanterns, the Council predicts that it will help save over £1 million per year.

We are involved in Electric Vehicle (EV) projects to make charge points more accessible in built-up areas. We worked with an EV charging specialist to transform lampposts in Greater London into multi-purpose charging infrastructure; providing both illumination and fast charging facilities.

It’s making low emission electric vehicles a realistic transport solution for residents.

Lucy Zodion is a relatively small company and we can only achieve our ambitions through collaborations and partnerships.  Some of these are technological; others are with specialists who excel at providing a particular service or product.  We see that these relationships strengthen both parties, bringing new customers and opportunities. 

Why are you joining the Leeds City Region delegation at Smart City World Expo this year and who do you want to speak to?

We are inspired by innovation. Attending Smart City Expo will provide a showcase for our company, inform the way we evolve and the technology that is required to do so. Collaboration is also something we are passionate about; it stimulates and accelerates innovation – two things that are crucial in the development of smart city solutions. The Smart City Expo will be a great platform to nurture this. 

We will promote our smart city solution Ki. at the Smart City Expo. Our theme is ‘Optimised By Openness’, as not only has Ki. been developed to meet open protocol standards such as LoRaWAN Class C and TALQ2, there is also a growing need for openness throughout smart city development. We really want to promote its importance for local authorities, or those looking to develop a smart city.