Smart sensors make safer beaches

Article image - Smart sensors make  safer beaches Lake Macquarie City, Northern Beaches Council and the University of Technology Sydney have joined forces for a better day at the beach.

In a world-first, cutting-edge technology and smart infrastructure is being deployed this month at four beaches across Lake Macquarie and Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

A range of sensors and cameras were installed at Redhead Beach and Blacksmiths Beach in Lake Macquarie, and Manly Beach and Shelly Beach in Sydney to monitor wave and swell movement, as well as visitor numbers.  

Smart Beaches Project Manager, Tony Blunden, said the Project combined smart infrastructure technologies with advanced data analytics and machine learning to generate real time and forecasted insights into beach visitation and conditions. 

“Last year, beach drownings in Australia increased by three per cent and each year more people visit our nation’s coast, impacting on safety, access and amenity.

“The Smart Beaches project arms professional beach lifeguards with real time information about beach conditions, the number of people on the beach and in the water, and weather conditions, assisting them in making informed decisions about beach management, patrol hours and staffing.”

The first sensors deployed were people-counting cameras to measure crowd numbers on each trial beach, as well as GPS trackers attached to the red and yellow flags, beach signs, lifeguard jet skis, buggies and rescue boards. 

The technology installed in late November is being trialled throughout the current beach season, to gauge its value in assessing beach conditions and amenity.

Data collected is transmitted to lifeguards and other beach authorities to help better manage staff time and channel other resources where they are needed most.

Smart Beaches is a joint project of Lake Macquarie City Council, Northern Beaches Council and the University of Technology Sydney.

It is funded partly under the Australian Government’s Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, encouraging collaborative, cutting-edge projects that improve the liveability, productivity and sustainability of Australian cities, towns and suburbs.