Product Vision and Strategy
Service Design
Solution Architecture
Feature Development

Enabling cities to operate smarter through internet connected street lighting

Experience Design
Software Engineering

Take advantage of connected technologies to unlock cost savings at scale.

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Lucy Zodion has a long history of manufacturing street lights. In fact, over 90% of streetlights in the UK include some of their technology. They approached Parallax wanting to take advantage of the huge opportunity cloud computing and IoT can bring.

It’s not every day we get a call from AWS, the cloud computing subsidiary of, Inc, asking us to help one of their clients with a major IoT project. We met with Lucy Zodion to learn about their vision for a connected city, before advising them on how to hook up their devices to the cloud, working together to sketch ideas, draw up specifications and create entirely new protocols.

Our initial project was to build a proof-of-concept, which is where we usually like to start with a large technical project. Let’s make the light switch on and off, and make it look relatively pretty in the process.

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We introduced brightness control allowing operators such as city councils to save energy by lowering brightness or switching off bulbs when they weren’t needed.

We reduced the bulb failures maintenance overhead by removing the need for costly ‘scouts’ to check if the bulb is working, letting the system report faults automatically.

Updating the firmware on hundreds of thousands of streetlights is a monumental task that requires an innovative solution. To accomplish this, we developed a custom over-the-air update protocol that utilises LoRaWAN radio transmitter and receiver in each light. Drawing inspiration from fast UDP-based transfer protocols, we optimised the technology within the limits of the system. Our team was able to design an efficient patching algorithm that can function in low-memory environments, while also incorporating 50-byte packet transmissions. With all these innovations combined, we were able to create a seamless, reliable system for updating streetlight firmware.

WebGL Maps

Visualising large amounts of data can be a challenging task, and it's especially tricky when it comes to plotting numerous data points. Many solutions involve clustering the points together and displaying a number that corresponds to the number of points in a particular cluster. However, we believe that there's a better way to tackle this problem.

We use cutting-edge technologies to plot all data points in real-time on the GPU of the computer. This innovative approach allows us to create interactive visualisations that are both intuitive and efficient. By utilising technology similar to that employed by Uber, we can provide users with an unprecedented level of detail and clarity, enabling them to explore data sets in a seamless and effective manner.

Automated Testing

An essential aspect of this project is the automated test suite, ensuring that every bit of the low-level binary protocols matches the specification accurately. Sometimes this meant testing before firmware had finished being developed. To make this work, we developed simulated versions of the nodes to mimic the packet exchange. To simulate the actual airwaves, we built a larger simulation that takes into account clashing radio transmissions on the same frequency and at the same time.

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