Sustainable Streetlighting Control Infrastructure for Outdoor Lighting and Related Smart City Applications

By Jim Frazer



Acuity Brands is a leading supplier of high quality, cost-effective electronic outdoor photocontrols.  The company designed its DTL (“Dark To Light”) products to be robust, reliable, and efficient for roadway, area streetlighting controllighting, floodlighting, security, and residential lighting applications.

As ARC Advisory Group learned in  a recent briefing with company executives, the DTL family now also includes networked wireless photocontrols for long-life LED applications that can create a foundational network canopy for smart cities.

The DTL hardware combined with the Itron network and Streetlight Vision software offers a new approach to comprehensive project planning that addresses both total cost of ownership (TCO) and sustainability.  According to the company, these initiatives drive projects that are designed to exceed expectations while being delivered on budget and on schedule.

Driven by Stakeholder Needs

Acuity Brands’ DTL offering utilizes an integrated, holistic approach designed to address the needs of all major stakeholder communities across the project lifecycle. Today’s stakeholders require solutions that remove silos and support a common software platform for streetlighting and other outdoor lighting, security, energy, video, and ancillary systems  in large public and private installations.  Stakeholders with specific domain-specific requirements include:

  • Investor-owned utilities, including standards compliance staffs and cybersecurity engineers
  • End users, including:
    • Large private operators
    • Public utilities and municipally-owned electric utilities
    • Rural electrical cooperatives
    • Local, county, and state departments of transportation and other related agencies
    • Commercial and industrial site managers
  • Designers and engineers – who desire ease of design from a fully featured solution
  • Installation partners – that require fast plug-and-play installation scenarios
  • Commissioning partners – that need software tools that allow quick system startup as well as access to functions that maximize efficiencies
  • Operations personnel – who require intuitive interfaces that drive productivity improvements and support physical asset management scenarios
  • Maintenance  personnel – who need interrupt-driven access to critical system anomalies to be able to quickly identify and remediate any issues

Compelling Feature Set

According to the company, DTL solutions are designed to satisfy the needs of all the stakeholders listed above and many others. These needs include:

  • Energy conservation – Energy savings are of prime importance as they can be realized each billing period.  DTL technology is designed to drive the maximum in control-based energy savings by employing a range of energy efficiency approaches.
  • Safety and security – Better quality lighting driven by DTL  fixture-based controls can help improve security.  Additionally, safety-based applications can be layered on the network. These applications can include dynamically enhanced lighting for bicyclists and even simple strengthening of the electric meter backhaul data network.
  • Cybersecurity – The DTL suite includes Itron networking technology and the sophisticated cybersecurity approaches required for customer metering and billing.
  • Reduced design and integration costs - Robust and intuitive design minimizes design labor. Integration costs can be reduced dramatically through use of wireless technology that eliminates costly wire runs as well as intuitive start-up tools that allow installations to be installed and commissioned quickly.
  • Interoperability - DTL interoperable solutions help ensure a “future-oriented” solution by supporting compliance with standards such as upcoming ANSI standard 137.4, a data format standard for the DALI driver for driver and luminaire asset information to be stored for access by the driver controls system.  Other standards supported include Wi-SUN IPv6 and TALQ.
  • Data collection and monetization – operational system data can be collected, analyzed, and monetized for application development to help optimize service delivery.  
  • Decorative Fixture Integrated Control -  DTL’s solution set also includes control nodes embedded directly within the fixture.  This provides a decorative fixture solution and rounds out the portfolio of offerings for fixtures while reducing field labor costs.  A compelling reason to select luminaire-embedded controls is the ability to decrease installation time.
  • Automated digital asset management for networked streetlights – Hardware designed to enable support for long-term data integrity and lifecycle management of large smart streetlight deployments.
  • Reduced labor costs for design,  installation, commissioning, and maintenance – DTLs solution combines labor savings with  energy conservation impacts, which the company believes offers the industry’s lowest TCO.  Soft, “quality of life” factors such as better visual acuity and greater perceived safety add additional value.

Comprehensive Offering

As we learned, the Acuity DTL offering spans everything from standalone photocells to a complete smart city infrastructure.  The offering includes:

Smart Cities

Acuity DTL’s Itron-ready networked solution offers enhanced functionality and adaptive control of LED street-lighting systems.  This can provide an ideal infrastructure platform for enabling critical outdoor applications such as traffic management, smart metering, and other outdoor Internet of Things technologies.

Remote Control

Connect Series photocontrols provide remote connectivity to lighting fixtures, allowing photocontrols to be enabled and disenabled from the ground.

LED Compatibility

DTL’s DSN, DLL Elite and Connect series LED photocontrols feature a design life of 20+ years and superior in-rush current and surge-protection features to match the extended life and low-maintenance benefits associated with LED fixtures.

Standard, Intelligent, and Wire-in Photocontrols Plus Accessories

Rounding out the offerings are premium silicon sensor controls, energy-saving part-night, intelligent HPS cycling detection and inline controls for fixtures where NEMA receptacles are not available.

Acuity Brands’ DTL and Sustainability

The three pillars of sustainability are: 1. preserving/enhancing the natural environment, 2. preserving/enhancing the human quality of life while doing the first two, in 3. an economically reasonable manner.

DTL controls support the natural environment by allowing granular control of groups of fixtures and even individual fixtures.   When managed correctly, this granular control of multiple lighting parameters can help ensure that all lighting requirements are met while consuming the minimum possible amount of energy to help reduce resource consumption and environmental emissions.


The broad DTL product range, capable feature set, reliable products, broad vision (extending to a comprehensive smart cities infrastructure), and overall focus on reduced TCO appear to provide a compelling value proposition for stakeholders involved in implementing, operating, and maintaining outdoor lighting in large applications in both the public and private sectors.  Furthermore, adherence to industry standards such as future-oriented ANSI 137.4, TALQ, and Wi-SUN IPv6 TALQ should simplify interoperability and help “future-proof” these solutions, both key concerns.   

DTL is a registered trademark of Acuity Brands.  All other trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners.


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Keywords: Streetlighting, Energy, Cybersecurity, Acuity Brands, DTL Controls, ARC Advisory Group.


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