San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is going to test energy efficient LED streetlights in one of the weirdest locations in his city tomorrow: a section of Turk Street between Taylor and Jones in the heart of the Tenderloin.

The demonstration takes place at 10 a.m. PDT tomorrow. That's actually one of the best times to visit that block. Many of the people selling drugs aren't up yet, but the liquor stores are open in case you need some gum, a bottle of Vitamin Water or a seven month old pack of Chocodiles.

Newsom will light four street lights using his iPhone for the novelty factor.

LED street lights consume less power because LEDs, which are computer chips, consume less power than traditional streetlights, which produce light by exciting chemicals. The streetlights are also networked over power lines. Thus, they can be shut off if no one is around. Streetlights can consume up to 40 percent of a city's energy budget, according to Echelon, which developed and installed the power line technology that links the streetlights (see Will Smart Grid See a Push for Power-Line Networking). BetaLED made the street lights.

But why would you want to ever want to shut off streetlights in one of the most crime-ridden blocks in the city?

Well, there's actually more you can do with the network. In Quebec, technicians have rigged smart streetlights up with sensors to allow police to detect when accidents occur. Oslo is trying to pair networked streetlights with applications for pedestrian safety. These lights could also be connected to security cameras. Anchorage, Alaska set up networked streetlights last year.

Although power line networking seems to be losing to ZigBee in the race to become the de facto in-home networking standard, some believe that the fairly robust bandwidth that it offers could be a good fit for linking public or outdoor nodes. Power line costs more, but it also can carry more data. ZigBee and BPL companies are already working on interoperability.

LED lights also require far less maintenance and are tough to break.