The Australian Government has awarded Lake Macquarie City Council a $910,000 grant under the smart cities and suburbs program to develop a world-first smart beaches platform to make beaches safer, reduce the risk of coastal drownings and improve public amenities.

The new system will be implemented in conjunction with Northern Beaches Council and the University of Technology Sydney. Other partners in the project include Orion Integration, Nokia, Urban Institute, the Australian Coastal Councils Association and the Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association.

Central to the project 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 pilot beaches in 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.

Cr Kay Fraser, Mayor of Lake Macquarie, said the ultimate aim is 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,” Cr Fraser said.

“It is world-first technology which will be developed and trialled over the next 12 months, with the aim of rolling 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 advances in technology meant there are now opportunities to provide more detailed, timely and readily available information about local beach conditions. “We are always looking for innovative ways to provide information to our community and to keep them safe,” he said. “These new tools tick both boxes.”

Andrew Tovey, senior research consultant from the UTS Knowledge Economy Institute, said the project represented an exciting opportunity for all the parties involved. “The project will explore a range of emerging smart technologies and world-leading research in a real-life and quintessentially Australian context,” he said.

The role of the Association will be to share knowledge and awareness of the smart beaches project with member councils and to gain the support and collaboration of coastal councils that wish to make input into the development and implementation of the project.

The Association is also scheduling a presentation and workshop on the project at the 2019 Australian Coastal Councils Conference, to be held at Kiama from 6 to 8 March.

More information is available at – https://bit.ly/2Brh8Zz