Smart tech project aims to reduce coastal drownings
World-first beach safety initiative to use cutting-edge technology to help reduce NSW coastal drownings.
Smart Beaches is a partnership between University of Technology Sydney and two local councils - Lake Macquarie City and Northern Beaches - to provide real time updates for lifeguards and beachgoers to increase safety and improve public amenity.
Up-to-date, detailed information from technology installed along the shores of trial beaches will augment existing surf and weather apps and websites. A combination of sensors and other smart infrastructure will monitor the movements of waves and swell for earlier detection of dangerous conditions.
UTS Associate Dean, External Engagement, Professor Myriam Amielh said the Smart Beaches technology would be developed and trialled over the next 12 months, with plans to roll it out by mid-2020.
Pending the success of this trial and ongoing funding, the technology could be rolled out to other beaches nationally and even internationally. Development of this technology is in its early stages, but it has the potential to become an invaluable tool in ongoing efforts to improve beach safety and usability.
The Smart Beaches Project is jointly funded by Lake Macquarie City Council, Northern Beaches Council and UTS and with $910,000 from Round 2 of the Australian Government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Program. This program supports collaborative, smart technology projects that improve the liveability, productivity and sustainability of Australian cities, towns and suburbs.
Senator for New South Wales Arthur Sinodinos said there is no silver bullet when it comes to eliminating the tragedy of coastal drownings – there are simply too many factors involved.
However, technology can provide real safety benefits and Smart Beaches will explore its potential with sensors monitoring beach activity to gauge which beaches and amenities are busiest and then transmit this data to lifeguards and local councils.
Almost 11 million people visited the patrolled beaches of Lake Macquarie and Northern Beaches Councils in the 2017-2018 season, prompting more than 1600 rescues with 7200 people requiring first aid.
Lake Macquarie City Mayor Kay Fraser said Redhead Beach and Blacksmiths Beach will be the two pilot locations.
Both are very popular beaches; each with unique circumstances that will test this technology and how it is applied, Already this summer we have seen a disturbing number of drowning deaths along Australia’s coast. In NSW alone, there have been 16 coastal drownings since the start of summer.
Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan said the collection and recording of beach usage information was a time-consuming and imprecise task for professional lifeguards but Smart Beaches would provide accurate information to help them focus on protecting public safety, initially at Manly Beach and Shelly Beach.
These are very busy beaches, attracting not just locals but high tourist numbers and we are excited to be part of this trial to improve beach safety and amenity.
Surf Life Saving NSW, the Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguards Association and the Australian Coastal Councils Association are among more than a dozen other project partners. Other project partners are: CIVIQ, Dantia, Lake Macquarie Tourism, Meshed, NNNCo, Nokia, NSW Data Analytics Centre, Orion Integration, Reekoh, SUMS Group, Surf Life Saving NSW and the Urban Institute.