Somewhere along the way, perhaps two decades or more ago, the old “humble lamppost” lost a little humility. It started to get digitally smart. In the early 2000s, for instance, Wi-Fi gear began to pop up on it. Over the years, it has become a host for all sorts of other communication chips and sensors, helping to detect everything from noise to pollution to traffic to gunshots, while transmitting mobile phone calls and data.

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