Safety with solar

Saferoads solar lights have been installed outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground as part of a scheme to improve safety conditions and reduce carbon emissions.

Yarra Park, the area between The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and Jolimont Station, is one of the most utilised public parklands in the city, functioning as a vital part of Melbourne’s national identity.

Following a spate of post-game incidents, the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC), which manages the park on behalf of the state, decided to develop an infrastructure and lighting plan to improve Yarra Park’s safety and accessibility levels.

Earlier this year, the MCC, in collaboration with Energy Australia, commissioned Saferoads to install 12 CCTV-enabled 30-Watt Ultra Solar Lights at Yarra Park with the aim of increasing security and safety for the public, while simultaneously working towards the goal of a carbon-neutral MCG stadium.

Saferoads National Sales Manager for solar lighting, Paul Thompson, says he was excited to work on the project as it aligned with company values to utilise developing technology to keep Australians safe when engaging with public spaces and infrastructure.

“The MCC and Energy Australia both stressed the importance of improving the light field at Yarra Park,” Mr. Thompson says.

“The asymmetrical spread of our lights facilitates greater illumination, which in turn strengthens the safety of Yarra Park for residents, fans and the general public,” he says.

According to Mr. Thompson, the CCTV capabilities of the lights installed at Yarra Park provide security for the MCC, granting the ability to live stream video 24 hours a day via a multi-user app that connects to any smartphone or tablet.

The 1.3-megapixel CCTV cameras have automatic day/night modes and operate on a separate solar charging system to the light itself.   

Mr. Thompson says the scope of the Yarra Park project required unique SIM card storage capabilities, explaining that 128-gigabyte SIM cards were inserted into the cameras to enable storage for a month of constantly recorded video.

The Victoria government supports the idea of a link between public lighting and reduced crime rates.

The 5.5-metre-high Saferoads lights run on a motion sensor, meaning the light will operate at a third of its power capabilities when no-one is around, before jumping to full power when someone approaches the sensor space.

Mr. Thompson says this feature is designed to save power and reduce energy consumption.

Motion sensors, like CCTV applications, is a value add for safety as it eliminates people’s ability to move around the park at night undetected, thereby reducing the possibility for incidents that would deter the public from entering the park after dark.

The need for 24-hour lighting was a driving force behind the use of solar lights at Yarra Park as reduced energy consumption complies with project partner Energy Australia’s Go Neutral initiative.

Go Neutral was developed by Energy Australia to help companies and households achieve carbon neutrality through the purchase of carbon offsets.

After getting involved with the initiative last year, the MCC and Energy Australia were able to turn the MCG into a carbon-neutral stadium for the entire month of September.

“Given the reality of 24/7 surveillance and energy consumption, solar is the only viable lighting option for areas that function at the scale of Yarra Park and are committed to environmental responsibility,” Mr. Thompson says.

According to Energy Australia, the Saferoads lights installed at Yarra Park are estimated to save 1.3 tonnes of carbon emissions per year, equal to the power consumed by an average Victorian household in four months.

Mr. Thompson says Saferoads’ customisation capabilities were another added benefit for the MCC and Energy Australia. The iconic and historical nature of Yarra Park and the MCG grounds at large meant the MCC needed Saferoads to provide lighting poles that aesthetically conformed to existing structures.

Taking pre-existing light poles into account, Saferoads acquired round tapered poles that met technical and visual specifications. Using their own painters, they were able to match the new poles to existing lights’ heritage green paint.

Saferoads’ combination of unique add-ons and technical capabilities has created a lighting system that enhances public safety via real time surveillance and greater light fields, while simultaneously maintaining the classic look and feel of the precinct.

“Yarra Park is very important to Melburnians so keeping the look consistent with history was at the forefront of our mind,” Mr. Thompson says. “There would be no point making all these moves towards safety if the public didn’t feel at home in the park.”

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