It's no secret that Aussies love the coast. In fact, 4.7 million NSW customers visited the coast in 2020/21 with over 200 million individual coastal visitations. Beaches are such an iconic part of our culture that it can be easy to overlook what can be a dangerous day out.
In the 12 months from 1 July to 30 June 2021, a total of 88 lives were lost on the NSW coastline with 45 of those classified as coastal drownings. Beaches account for 19% of drowning deaths in Australia and have been identified as a priority area within the Australian Water Safety Strategy (AWSS) 2030.
To combat this problem the Digital Restart Fund has recently funded $1,606.075 to Smart Beaches that will ensure:
- Simple, reliable and consistent reporting tools
- Better collaboration, decision making and use of resources through accurate and readily available data.
- Public access to real-time information regarding beach conditions and consistency across locations for ease of understanding
Drowning prevention priorities
The AWSS presents a framework that identifies key drowning prevention priorities, areas of focus and approaches. It establishes a roadmap for action that can be used by Governments, organisations and local communities.
"Preventing drowning at beaches, oceans and rocks is a priority because coastal environments are dynamic and create diverse opportunities for recreation.
They also present a variety of risks and hazards making coastal safety management complex, reaffirming beaches, oceans and rocks as priority locations for drowning prevention."
- Australian Water Safety Strategy
What are Smart Beaches?
Smart Beaches will build upon the achievements of the award winning 2019/20 pilot project to make NSW the global leader in beach safety management using a digital first approach.
Effective, evidence-based solutions
Smart Beaches aims to facilitate collaborative, effective and consistent evidence-based approaches to beach safety risk management using a suite of technical and academic experts and other coastal safety stakeholders across all land management agencies.
Delivering real time data for increased safety
Smart Beaches is an opportunity to continue investment by seeding it at a state-wide level across five LGAs during this round of Digital Restart Funding. The project will further develop four concepts shown to have the most promise:
- Lifeguard Activity Reporting Tool (LARA) – An automated reporting tool for lifeguard services where data sources can be integrated and made available via a secure, manageable open data platform.
- Automated Crowd Counting – This project will further develop the image analytics technology systems responsible for crowd counting into a scalable, affordable option that can be integrated with the reporting tool.
- GPS Asset Tracking – Small, battery powered devices enable automatic recording of rescue activity and beach status, improving data quality and quantity whilst remaining transparent to lifeguards. Tailored notifications can be sent to managers and the public to improve situational awareness.
- Nearshore Wave Monitoring – deployment of a nearshore wave buoy will further refine the Manly Hydraulics Lab Nearshore Wave Tool. This project integrates the nearshore wave data for all beaches across NSW and supports data improvements via buoy deployments.
For more information about the project visit Coastal Safety Group Smart Beaches Project.