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World-first smart beaches platform awarded Federal grant

World-first smart beaches platform awarded Federal grant
November 29, 2018

Lake Macquarie City Council will develop a world-first smart beaches platform to make beaches safer, reduce the risk of coastal drownings and improve public amenities.

The Australian Government has awarded Council a $910,000 grant to implement the new system, in conjunction with Northern Beaches Council and University of Technology Sydney,

Central to the concept is the collection and real-time transmission of information about beach conditions, public amenities and services.

The information will be made available to the community via smartphone apps and interactive digital displays at the pilot beaches, one in each of the Lake Macquarie and Northern Beaches Local Government Areas.

Sensors installed along the beach will monitor wave and swell movement, while others will monitor beach activity to gauge when beaches are busiest.

Mayor of Lake Macquarie, Councillor Kay Fraser, said the ultimate aim was to reduce coastal drownings and increase safety awareness among beachgoers.

“This technology will provide our lifeguards and the general public with valuable, real-time information and reporting, helping to create safer beaches for everyone,” Mayor Fraser said.

“It is world-first technology which will be developed and trialled over the next 12 months, with the hope to roll it out at the end of the 18-month project, including an app with up-to-the-minute localised beach information, including weather and surf conditions, and how busy the beach is.

“Our local government area includes 32km of spectacular coast and four patrolled beaches, which collectively attract more than 1.4 million people a year so we know such an app will be a popular tool for many of our beach goers.”

Northern Beaches Mayor, Michael Regan, said he was thrilled this important project had been able to attract the significant funding required to make it work.

“Advances in technology means there are now opportunities to provide more detailed, timely and readily available information about local beach conditions,” Mayor Regan said.

“We are always looking for innovative ways to provide information to our community and to keep them safe.

“These new tools tick both boxes, providing an even better and safer experience for all beach users.

“We look forward to working collaboratively with project partners to maximise the opportunity for our community.” continued Mayor Regan. 

Senior Research Consultant Andrew Tovey, from the UTS Knowledge Economy Institute, said the project was “an exciting opportunity” for all parties involved.

“This project will explore a range of emerging smart technologies and world-leading research in a real-life and quintessentially Australian context,” Tovey said.

“We look forward to working closely with lifeguards and communities to get this new tech working effectively and appropriately to make our beaches safer and more enjoyable than ever before.”

Lake Macquarie City Council’s Leisure Services Manager, Brad Sutton, said the technology would have application on any beaches further afield – around Australia and internationally.

“This Australian Government grant is a wonderful opportunity for Lake Macquarie and the Northern Beaches to lead the pack with smart beaches technology and make our mark on the world stage,” Sutton said.

The concept will complement existing measures employed by both Lake Macquarie and Northern Beaches Council including lifeguards, drone technology and early shark detection systems.

The grant announcement is timely, with summer just days away and a recent report revealing coastal drownings in Australia are on the rise.

Other project partners include: Orion Integration, Nokia, Urban Institute, Dantia, NNNCo, Meshed, NSW Data Analytics Centre, Civiq, SUMS, Australian Coastal Councils Association, Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association, Reekoh, Surf Life Saving NSW and Lake Macquarie Tourism.

This project received grant funding from the Australian Government.

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