Intelligent street lighting refers to public street lighting that adapts to movement by pedestrians, cyclists and cars. It is a feature within the concept of a smart city. Intelligent street lighting, also referred to as adaptive street lighting, dims when no activity is detected, but brightens when movement is detected. This type of lighting is different from traditional, stationary illumination, or dimmable street lighting that dims at pre-determined times.
The first patent requests for intelligent street lighting stem from the late 1990s. But it wasn't until April 7, 2006, that Europe experienced the first large scale implementation of a control network in a street lighting application. The implementation took place in Oslo (Norway) and it was expected to reduce energy usage by 50 percent, improve roadway safety, and minimize maintenance costs.
The Oslo project triggered interest from other cities in Europe, and formed the basis for other sustainability initiatives, such as the E-Street initiative. This research group focused on ways to reduce energy usage in outdoor lighting systems in the European Union (EU). The E-Street group strongly influenced EU standards and legislation for intelligent outdoor lighting systems.
Street lights can be made intelligent by placing cameras or other sensors on them, which enables them to detect movement (e.g. Sensity's Light Sensory Network, GE's "Currents", Tvilight's CitySense). Additional technology enables the street lights to communicate with one another. Different companies have different variations to this technology. When a passer-by is detected by a camera or sensor, it will communicate this to neighboring street lights, which will brighten so that people are always surrounded by a safe circle of light. The SmartLighting technology of the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences does this as well, and has been installed in Bernburg-Strenzfeld in Germany. Street lights illuminate at a longer distance ahead of the pedestrian than behind the pedestrian in the SmartLighting concept.
Some companies also offer software with which the street lights can be monitored and managed wirelessly. Clients, or other companies, can access the software from a computer, or even a tablet. From this software, they can gather data, pre-set levels of brightness and dimming time; receive warning signals when a light defects. 
The U.S. Federal Highway Administration has issued guidelines to provide a process by which a governmental agency or a lighting designer can select the required lighting level for a road or street and implement adaptive lighting for a lighting installation or lighting retrofit.