(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indianapolis is betting that shining a light on city streets can take a bite out of crime.
Indy is almost done with a five-year project to replace old streetlights and add new ones. The city has replaced 27,000 high-pressure sodium bulbs with LED lights, which shine brighter, last longer, and cost less. The city is plowing the savings into new lights in areas that don’t have any. 1,600 new lights have been installed so far, with 400 more in the works.
New streetlights were one of the first initiatives Mayor Joe Hogsett announced when he took office five years ago. At the time, the city hadn’t added any streetlights in 35 years. With the city on pace for its third record murder total in four years, Hogsett says more lights improve both safety and residents’ perception of safety, especially in areas which right now don’t have lights at all.
Policy advisor Mackenzie Higgins says the city recommends locations to add lights based on crime rates, community input, how well lit an area is, and how close it is to sidewalks. The final decision rests with electric company AES, based on the logistics of extending power to a new light.
As the savings accumulate from the retrofitted lights, Higgins says the city plans to add more new lights beyond those already installed or in the works. AES says it’ll soon announce similar plans in Lawrence, Beech Grove, and Speedway, with a possibility of expanding into other communities.