StarSight – Solar powered street lamps with wireless access points

solar lamppost
This project seems like it could be a good fit for developing but urban settings where there is fairly high population density, a budget for deploying infrastructure, and enough community support to limit problems with vandalism or theft of the equipment.

Starsight (Starsightproject.com) is a project designed to supercharge street lighting and power in developing counties. Essentially it is a network of pylons, each with a solar panel, linked not by cables but by antennae which use wireless internet protocol.

The Starsight idea came out of the involvement of London-based sustainable development specialist the Kolam Partnership in an urban street lighting initiative in Cameroon.

Reliable street lighting can help a country to develop – a study by the Kenyan government recently found that street lighting reduced crime by 65 per cent. The benefits are even more widespread – aid workers and foreign businesses are more likely to stay on in a country if they feel secure.

One of the project partners is a Next-G, a Singapore-based wireless manufacturer which is building the pylons. If the project scales up, perhaps they can find a way to set up in-country fabrication of the poles, rather than importing them.

As an aside, solar panels are commonly seen at road intersections in Bangalore. If you look carefully at the top right of this photo, you’ll see one on the street sign pylon behind the tree branches.
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Merry-go-round and see-saw powered water pumps

A couple of interesting rural technology nuggets on BoingBoing:

From the PlayPump web site:

The Play-Pump is capable of producing 1400 litres per hour at 16 rpm from a depth of 40m, and is effective up to a depth of 100m. A typical hand pump installation cannot compete with this delivery rate, even with substantial effort.

The Playpumps are specifically designed and patented roundabouts (1) that drive conventional borehole pumps (2), while entertaining children. The revolutionary pump design converts rotational movement to reciprocating linear movement by a driving mechanism consisting of only two working parts.

To date OVER SIX HUNDRED installations have been completed, a large percentage of these installations are at primary schools. A partnership has been formed with the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry; Minister Buyelwa Sonjica has been vocal in her support and encouragement for the continued installation of this system in rural Africa.

Another link from the same post highlights the Gaviota eco-community project in Colombia, South America:

A techno-tour of the llanos shows how Gaviotas has revolutionized life here. The most significant invention is a simple hand pump capable of tapping aquifers six times deeper than conventional models, but requiring so little effort that children can operate it. In normal pumps a heavy piston must be raised and lowered inside a pipe. Gaviotas engineers realized they could do the reverse; leave the piston stationary and lift an outer sleeve of lightweight, inexpensive PVC tubing instead.

In the open-air Gaviotas preschool, the children’s see-saw is actually a pump in disguise. As they rise and descend, water gushes from a vertical pipe into an open cement tank. Over the years Gaviotas technicians have installed these in thousands of school yards, using kid power to provide villages with clean water.