Street lights in Sri Lanka are currently operated and maintained by Local Government Authorities. Vast majority of the street lights, especially in suburban and rural areas are using low-cost switches directly connected to the mains line without proper safety precautions, operated by individuals in the locality.

It was reported that the main reason for using this system is, due to the cost involved with the installation of a proper switching systems in street light circuits and the labour cost of switch operators.

This issue was identified by Eng. Dayantha Jayarathna of the IESL NSW Chapter in 2015 as a matter to be addressed urgently to ensure public safety and to comply with established regulatory requirements. Although there are many commercially available solutions in the market, due to very specific conditions in the electricity network and streetlight control system, no commercial solution can be successfully deployed in Sri Lanka. Therefore, a solution for this problem must be very cost effective, easy to install, minimum capital expenses and remotely controllable.

After initial discussions with the Chairman of National Engineering Research and Development Centre (NERDC) Eng. Shavindranath Fernando, a collaborative committee was established to work on a suitable solution. A steering committee was appointed with representatives from National Engineering Research and Development Centre (NERDC), Ceylon Electricity Board, Lanka Electricity Company, Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and IESL NSW Chapter to develop a suitable solution. Eng. Dayantha Jayarathna was appointed as the IESL NSW Chapter representative for the steering committee.

The preliminary investigations were started in 2016. After conducting research on number of different technologies, a functional solution was developed using Radio Data System (RDS) where the signal to operate the switch was received through the commercial FM broadcasting service. Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation was extremely supportive in deploying this method.

Marking a major milestone of the project, a functional prototype was demonstrated in Colombo for the representative from NERDC, CEB, LECO and SLBC on Monday the 31st of August 2020. The steering committee was satisfied with the solution. Further demonstrations will be held for the senior management and engineers from CEB and LECO.

At the moment the product is in the prototype stage which can be used to evaluate the performance in the field under controlled conditions. An industrialised version will be developed and further discussions will be conducted with relevant parties to introduce as a fully developed commercial product providing a safe and reliable streetlight control system for Sri Lanka.


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