Smart Beaches Community of Practice

The Office of Local Government Practice note 15 guides Councils to strengthen our water safety functions and responsibilities using a risk management approach and encourages collaboration. Furthermore, Councils retain this responsibility to make decisions in relation to strategic planning and risk management even when the lifesaving function has been delegated to a contracted and/or volunteer service.

Beach safety is our reponsibility!

The challenges we face are rarely unique to a single beach,this was perhaps particularly noticeable during the recent COVID 19 outbreak. Following the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, the Federal Government has supported the establishment of Communities of Practice as a way to share experiences and facilitate collaboration. Ocean Safety was identified as a key area of interest amongst others such as Smart Parking, 5G implementation and National Transport.

What is the Smart Beaches Community of Practice?

The Smart Beaches Community of Practice is a forum to collaborate with other Land Managers about our responsibility for beach safety management.

The Smart Beaches Community of Practice meets online monthly with discussion and presentations following four key themes:

  • Collaboration – Share your experience and ideas with other like-minded Land Managers
  • Technology – Share the ways in which technology is being used on our beaches to support risk management and to improve evidence-based decision making
  • Research – A central resource to access leading research both in Australia and globally
  • Operations – Discuss operational approaches with your peers. Such topics may include signage, crowd management, beach closures, funding requests, training and education.

Why is technology important?

Taking a risk-based approach to Beach Safety relies on evidence-based decision making and an understanding of how certain data points relate to risk. Currently there is inconsistency in the nature of beach data collection along Australia’s coast with different Councils collecting different information relating to crowd numbers, activity and local conditions. This is also a time consuming and imprecise task when performed manually by lifeguards.

Technology offers an opportunity to standardise data collection both within and between councils. Technology can also provide data points outside of patrol hours and at unpatrolled locations improving our understanding of, and responses to, the risks we are managing on a daily basis. However, technology can also be complex, not to mention expensive and difficult to integrate. By working together we can establish far greater economies of scale both for the adoption of technology and the operational decision making that results.

How can I join?

The Smart Beaches Community of Practice is open to all local governments. We are currently holding online meetings on the 4th Tuesday of each month. If you would like to become part of the discussion, or would like to know more, please email Tony Blunden at ablunden@lakemac.nsw.gov.au