Smart Beaches: The Next Frontier in Visitor Safety for Smart Cities

Smart city concepts have made waves in the world of technology, and now they are doing the same along the coasts of major municipalities.

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Oceanside cities around the world are finding exciting new ways to integrate smart city applications to leverage data collection and enhance healthy living and citizen engagement. Smart beaches, as they have been dubbed, are not only improving safety, productivity, and sustainability for their residents, they are also expanding the scope of smart city systems.

Last November the Australian government awarded the Lake Macquarie City Council a $910,000 grant to implement the world’s first smart beach platform—a system that, in real time, both collects and transmits information about beach conditions and public facilities, in order to better inform lifeguard staff, manage public amenities, and ensure safety for all residents and visitors.

Lake Macquarie City Mayor Kay Fraser recently spoke at the Smart Cities Series in Sydney, Australia, describing the exciting new project.

“Last year, we welcomed over one and a half million visitors to Lake Macquarie beaches,” Fraser told the New Castle Star. “Combine this with stats from the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report showing that there were 249 drowning deaths in [New South Wales] last year, and you start to understand why it’s important to try and improve beach safety.”


For most beachside cities, influxes in seasonal crowds not only mean a boost in tourism, but also a higher risk of deaths by drowning. Following tide tables in order to forecast inclement weather has helped lifeguards monitor visitor safety, but with unpredictable surges in tide, shifts in coastal jetties, and underwater currents, much of a lifeguard’s responsibility is to react to situations, rather than predict and anticipate dangerous conditions.

Other traditional predictive strategies have used data from sensors on buoys and weather stations to anticipate changes in the water, but these predictions have not always been precise and in many cases have provided both false-positive and false-negative results. Managing extensive shorelines by a limited staff can result in overworked lifeguard employees.

Smarter, Safer Solutions

The implementation of smart sensors is creating safer, less congested, and better-connected beaches. Fraser explained that the Lake Macquarie project “will see sensors and a mix of other smart infrastructure installed to monitor wave and swell movement to provide earlier detection of dangerous conditions, while others will monitor visitor activity to gauge which beaches and amenities are busiest at any given time.”

Swell sensors and people-counting analytics are not the only smart city technologies making their way to the coast. In the Valencian community on Spain’s Mediterranean coast, another pioneering project is collecting and analyzing data from a variety of sensors, in order to combine smart infrastructure technologies with advanced data analytics and machine learning to generate forecasted insights into beach visitation and conditions.

Examples of these sensors include:

  • Substrate sensors that measure the quality and temperature of the sand 
  • Bathymetries that monitor the seabed in real time 
  • UVA sensors that measure radiation levels 
  • Water sensors that measure consumption and anticipate maintenance needs
  • Smart traffic lights that combine surveillance cameras and video analytics to facilitate traffic control and pedestrian prioritization

When data from these sensors is collected and aggregated under a single system, and enhanced with artificial intelligence (AI), data can be immediately analyzed for real-time information, as well as archived for long periods of time for deep learning. Securing and delivering the data in a timely manner offer insights that optimize safety measures, allowing lifeguards to anticipate precarious scenarios and close down the beach if needed; they also improve overall economic and environmental efficiency and sustainability, allowing municipalities to address infrastructure in heavy traffic areas, respond to dangerous rises in water toxicity, provide resources and staff to facilitate influxes in visitation, and better oversee waste management.

More Data, More Storage

This rapid growth in data collection for smart beaches creates a critical need for high-performing and scalable data storage. Because so many of these operations depend on long-term archive—for the implementation of deep learning analytics—and data aggregation from hundreds, even thousands of networked sensors, beach cities can only be as efficient as their data storage solutions are robust. These metropolises should consider partnering with field-tested and reliable storage providers.

When it comes to dependability and innovation, Seagate Technology’s suite of industry-leading storage solutions is an excellent example.

Seagate’s SkyHawk and SkyHawk AI hard drives store over 10,000 hours of video and are optimized for 24×7 workloads in both DVR and NVR storage solutions. Designed for edge computing applications that deliver quick insights on site, SkyHawk AI supports 32 streams of metadata. Complete with SkyHawk Health Management software and optional Seagate Rescue Data Recovery Services, SkyHawk drives provide a heightened level of protection.

Seagate’s Exos® enterprise drives are well suited for data center environments with heavy read and write workloads and can scale to meet any storage need. Exos drives are also outfitted with self-encrypting technology. This feature ensures all stored information can only be accessed by approved users and in the event of a breach, the data remains safe and is indecipherable to unauthorized individuals.

Finally, Seagate’s Nytro® solid-state drives are another key option to maximize server performance. Seagate Nytro drives are optimized for cloud computing, machine learning, AI analytics, and delivering data insights at record speeds in order to maximize predictive analysis and make decisions in real time. Storage systems powered by Seagate solutions maximize data flow, as well as data-share capabilities from edge to cloud for any and every smart beach application.