There was an interesting report on 3Sat here in Germany the other day about street lighting. Many cities save on energy costs by cutting the amount of time street lighting is on for, but that also means some streets are dark. Rather than lighting streets that nobody is using or having dark streets when people need light, a company (with a terrible web site) called Dial4Light have a system by which you can dial a number for the street and it turns the lights on for about 10-15 minutes. It works much like the lights in a stairwell of a building. Apart from the cost of the call, the service is free most of the time, but you can have a chargeable account if you want to switch on things like sports facility lighting, etc.

I thought was an interesting piece service design, at least with regards the technology. There web site could do with a bit of design work on it as one of the key touchpoints to make it appealing. A few other things spring to mind too, such as it be less useful if you have to go to a web site to sign up. You would really want to be able to turn on the lights there and then in a dark street, not have to go home, sign up and then use it. One of the reasons is that you’re likely to know your way around and/or feel less scared by a familiar street. You also have to dial in via voice rather than be able to send an SMS, which would seem the obvious way of doing it (although perhaps that stops people flooding the system).

You can watch the report here.

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