LED, the technology that has revolutionized lighting and which led to the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics for its three inventors – Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura – has taken over Milan and Brescia. Over the next two years the two main cities in Lombardy will use LED technology only for their street lighting, and will be on track to becoming smart cities.

LEDs (light-emitting diode) bring significant benefits in terms of efficiency, light output and safety. In practice they use much less energy and last much longer (up to 5 times more) than traditional lights. This leads to a drastic reduction in electricity “bills” and most importantly is very eco-friendly. Their long operational life makes for better uninterrupted light output, reduces the need for maintenance work and light bulb replacement and, as a result, the annual quantity of WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment). The new lights do not contain mercury or polluting substances. LED lights also reduce light pollution, because the light shines on footpaths and roads without being directed upwards.

Milan will be the first large city in Italy to use LED technology only for its street lighting. By August 2015, the city’s 140,000-plus street lights will have LEDs under a scheme launched by the City of Milan and implemented by the A2A Group. This innovative decision comes in the footsteps of cities like Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo. By the time the Expo opens (on 1 May 2015), 80% of the street lights will have been refitted.

In 2015, in agreement with the Brescia local authorities, the A2A group will begin to replace all the city’s existing street lights with next generation LED technology over a 2-year period. At present, Brescia has more than 40,000 street lights (two thirds are sodium-vapor lights).