Drones to watch NSW beaches from today
Drones will be used to monitor the number of visitors to more than two dozen of Sydney's most popular northern beaches and parks from Saturday to prevent overcrowding and ensure they COVID-safe.
The four month trial starts on November 14 and is a partnership between Surf Life Saving NSW (SLS NSW) and Northern Beaches Council (NBC).
It has been introduced ahead of what is anticipated to be one of the busiest summers on record on Sydney's beaches.
Drones will provide SLS NSW and the NBC authorities with real-time information on the number of beachgoers at popular destinations to avoid overcrowding.
Among numerous beaches that will be under surveillance includes the inner beachside suburb of Manly which is one of 21 beaches to be monitored.
The beach at Manly was already under surveillance from drones before the coronavirus pandemic.
The trial will cover parks and reserves including Clontarf, Apex Park, Mona Vale and Governor Phillip Park.
Northern Beaches Council Mayor, Michael Regan said the joint initiative was about keeping people safe during the pandemic and to avoid overcrowding at beaches.
"This partnership is a critical part of our summer COVID safety operations," Mayor Regan said.
"Our aim is to keep our popular beaches and parks open so locals and visitors alike can enjoy them to the full this summer.
"Using this real time data we can even more effectively manage our public spaces and reduce the COVID risk to beachgoers."
The information will also be uploaded on the Beachside website and app to allow beachgoers to easily identify less crowded beaches before they leave home with the tap of a button on their mobile phone.
Surf Life Saving guards have been using drones to assist with rescues but will now be of added value and provide quality data to allow beachgoers to make an informed choice about which beach will be safest to head to.
Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce said the use of drone will keep beaches and public spaces open during summer and most importantly, the Northern Beaches community COVID-safe.
The data will also be available to police, who can direct people away from overcrowded beaches.
"Drones have become an indispensable tool in Surf Life Saving operations," he said.
"In addition to providing important beach attendance information to councils and police who make beach access decisions, our drones are used for marine creature surveillance, search and rescue operations and spot beach hazards such as rips."
"We've been working with councils on smart ways to keep beaches open this summer ahead of what's going to be a massive season on the NSW coastline.
"Nobody, least of all surf lifesavers, wants to close beaches, so the more information we can give people about beach attendance, ahead of them arriving on the sand to find it nearing COVID-safe attendance limits, the better."
The trial of the new beach and park surveillance service will begin with weekends and public holidays from today (November 14) at 25 NBC beach and park locations.
Daily monitoring will start from December 21 and then revert to weekends and public holidays only from January 31 before it end on February 28.
BEACH AND PARKS WITH DRONE OPERATIONS
- Little Manly Beach & Reserve
- Shelly Beach
- Manly Beach
- North Steyne
- Freshwater + Reserve
- South Curl Curl
- Dee Why + Grass + James Meehan Reserve
- Long Reef
- Collaroy + Reserve
- North Narrabeen
- Mona Vale
- Bungan Beach
- Whale Beach
- Palm Beach.
- Apex Park - Mona Vale
- East and West Esplanade (Manly)
- Governor Phillip Park - Palm Beach
- Winnererremy Bay Reserve - Bayview.
Originally published as Drones to watch NSW beaches from today