Student survey sheds light on Bath's outdoor illumination
BATH — Cindy Cygan's Geographic Information System class is nearing the end of a two-year project for the city, gathering data about Bath's approximately 850 street lights.
The Bath Regional Career and Technical Center teacher explained that the study is meant to determine if there are areas of the city with more than enough light, where energy can be reduced, or where lighting is insufficient.
Along with light locations, mapped using Geographic Positioning System units the students carry, the study also encompasses data about fixture styles, wattage and whether there are multiple bulbs. The information can also help the city determine whether light bulb sizes could be changed to reduce energy costs, Cygan explained.
She said Lee Leiner, the city's deputy director of public works, approached her about using her students' GIS experience to help the city gather the data. She liked the idea, Cygan said, because such projects help her students feel a sense of ownership in their work. She said she expects to work with the city on future mapping projects, too.
Leiner said that before questions could be answered – such as how many street lights the city has, their wattage and where they are located – "we simply had to have a map of what we have out there."
He added that this is the first time he has done a project with the technical center, calling the endeavor "a really great experience."
"It's certainly of great value to the city," Leiner said, "and hopefully the information will be able to be used very productively."
Deanna Buitrago, a senior at Morse High School who takes classes at the technical center, said on Monday that one thing she's learned from the experience of studying street lights is that there are a lot of them in Bath.
"I guess the electricity bill for the lights is extremely high, and they're trying to cut back," she said. "So we're plotting the coordinates and seeing how many lights are on each street."
Fellow senior Tiffany Bowman, who was gathering data with Buitrago on Rose Street lights, said the information would be coordinated into maps to be printed and given to the city.
"Once the data is in (the database) ... we should be able to go to a specific location on a street; when you click on that street light location, it should bring up all that data for that light," said Cygan, who also teaches architecture, engineering, marine drafting, animation and computer aided drafting.
She added that the students were able to glean all the information they needed from street level.
"Having been out there and collecting the data, it gives (the students) more investment creating the maps, because they can see the stuff that they've actually done, and why they've done it, and make the connection," Cygan said.
Buitrago said she and her fellow students enjoy getting outside and accumulating the data, too.
"It gives us a chance to prove ourselves," she said. "This is our responsibility to the city of Bath. We're doing something for Bath. So it's a good way of giving to the community."
Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.