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The Smart Beaches Project

Smart Beaches Project


Lake Macquarie City Council

Redhead Beach and Blacksmiths Beach in Lake Macquarie, and Manly Beach and Shelly Beach in the Northern Beaches, New South Wales

Project stage



Start date: 19 November 2018
End date: 31 May 2020

Project value

Australian Government funding:


  • Northern Beaches Council
  • University of Technology Sydney
  • Orion Integration
  • Nokia
  • Urban Institute
  • Reekoh
  • NSW Data Analytics Centre
  • Dantia
  • NNNCo
  • Meshed
  • Ocean Live
  • 3Crowns Technology
  • Unleash Live
  • Digital Matter

Focus area

  • City and community planning
  • Visitor experience
  • Public safety (crime and disaster prevention and management)
  • Education and public health
  • Natural environmental data and measurement (air quality, dust, noise, waterways)

Project type

  • Community engagement
  • Public safety
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Smart governance
  • Other

Technology type

  • Internet of Things
  • Wi-Fi
  • CCTV
  • Data Management (Data platform, open data, data privacy and security, blockchains, standards)
  • Hardware
  • Wireless sensor networks
  • Environmental sensors
  • IT systems (interoperability)

Project link

Project summary

The Smart Beaches Project combines smart infrastructure technologies with advanced data analytics and machine learning to generate new real-time and forecasted insights into beach visitation and conditions. Professional lifeguards and coastal experts will validate data through a co-design process. Targeted Council, community and business engagement will deliver smart tools and data discovery to improve beach safety, activate coastal precincts and catalyse local innovation. Public participation through education, online consultation and creative elements in the beachscape will bring the project to life.

The challenge

Almost 250 people drowned across Australia in 2018. A spate of tragic incidents on NSW Beaches in early 2019 again highlighted the need for increased beach safety and awareness of dangerous conditions. 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 localised conditions. Collection and recording of beach usage information is a time-consuming and imprecise task for professional lifeguards.


Smart Beaches aims to facilitate collaborative, effective and consistent evidence-based approaches to beach safety risk management across all land management agencies. We work to harness the individual and collective knowledge of our member"s, a suite of technical and academic experts and other coastal safety stakeholders to take leadership on ocean safety management.


Smart Beaches aims to deliver a range of services and programs that assist all Member Organisations collectively and individually. Smart Beaches provides benefits to its Members including:

  • Industry Forums to collaborate on common issues;
  • Access to leading research;
  • Access to new technology for beach safety management;
  • Centralised database of ocean conditions, visitation and lifeguard activity; and
  • A common recording and reporting methodology.

Lessons learned

Data integration is difficult and time consuming. Siloed dashboards greatly support sensor testing but need to be brought together later.

A clear development of vision supported decision making throughout the project. 


The outcome is a well developed and tested framework to deliver immediate value to our lifeguards on the beaches and to support medium to long-term planning for beach safety management. We have determined the parts of the system that are most useful, reliable and available and how these can be presented to best support lifeguards and their managers. We also have the beginnings of a system to not only present this data but to use it to summarise risk levels and predict future scenarios.

Contact details

Name: Tony Blunden
Phone: 0436 806 375