Data-driven cyber-physical system control for Realising Efficient Smart Street lighting (DRESS)

Durham University, Department of Engineering, Durham, UK

Dr Hongjian Sun

Close Date: 31/08/2020

PhD Studentship

Project description 

Applications are invited for a fully funded (full-time) PhD studentship developing efficient and smart streetlight control methods. The project is part funded by European Regional Development Funding and is in collaboration with Otaski Energy Solutions Ltd. 

Project Details: The smart grid has the potential to improve safety, reliability and efficiency of the power grid, where information technology plays a crucial role in attaining key objectives of smart grids. High speed and bidirectional communication infrastructure, advanced data processing, distributed computing technologies are indispensable for power system state estimation, control, optimization and restoration.  

Smart Street Lighting, which is an important part of both smart grid and smart city in recent time, has become increasingly essential in terms of improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon footprint. Two key areas in actualising smart street lighting are electrical connection of streetlights and data communication between streetlights. The challenges encountered are: 

1) Architecture of the Communication Network

There are various types of communication networks which include dedicated wired, utility wire and wireless communication but each of these methods have their advantages and disadvantages which include time delay, packet losses, and limited channel capacity. These issues need to be mitigated in terms of improving quality of connections and transmission of real time data to actualise smart streetlighting control.  

2) Information Transmission Technology

The communication traffic will inevitably increase as more Internet of Things (IoTs) get connected. This will give rise to network congestion and degrade the transmission performance of the network. It is necessary to investigate issues of congestion, data control and transmission, and develop a methodology for ensuring real time information flow. 

3) Cyber Physical model for energy data transmission?

Streetlighting Energy Management depends on energy and utility companies’ data which include metering data, weather data, GIS data. Building on these, data models can be developed to reduce cost of operation, achieve lower carbon emissions by managing energy demand for streetlighting. Therefore, data preparation, clean up and curation are of importance, as much as the generated energy efficiency implementations.

In order to analyse a large amount of data for optimizing the streetlighting network, efficient data management and data network communication, cloud computing and high-performance computing and stable communication channel are required.  

DRESS project aims to address these three challenging issues by building a strong and sustainable academic-industrial collaboration between Durham University and Otaski Energy Solutions Ltd. The following three key scientific objectives will be achieved in this project:

a) Develop whole system cyber-physical models integrating cyber systems components (such as communication nodes and networks) into physical system control loop, in order to improve efficient control of smart street lighting system;

b) Develop data-driven, robust and lightweight congestion control protocols for their implementation in any wired or wireless communication networks;

c) Test and validate the developed methodologies in laboratory environment for future roll-out of mature products/services.    

The project will take the form of an industrially supported studentship with the student primarily based at Durham University whilst working for industrial placements with Otaski Energy Solutions Ltd in final year within a 3-year fully funded study programme. 

Entry Requirements: Applicants should hold at least a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in Engineering, Computer Sciences, Applied Mathematics or a related subject.  

Eligibility: This studentship is supported through the Intensive Industrial Innovation Programme, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The studentship covers full Home fees and a tax-free stipend at the EPSRC rate. Applicants from outside the UK/EU are not eligible for this award unless they are able to self-fund the difference between UK/EU domestic fees and international fees (

Start date:  01 October 2020

Location: Durham University and Otaski Energy Solutions Ltd (  

Contact: Informal enquiries can be made to either Dr Hongjian Sun ( or Dr Philip Inegbedion (  

How to apply: To make an application, please visit the University applications page at When making an application, please state the project title “Data-driven cyber-physical system control for Realising Efficient Smart Street lighting (DRESS)”.  

Deadline for application: 31 August 2020. 

Funding Notes: £15,285 p.a. based on 2020/21 stipend.