A Municipal Innovation Council Project
Turning current data into safe swimming.
So, what's a Smart Beach?
The Smart Beach project is a three-year pilot project that will provide beachgoers with up-to-date information on water conditions.
A smart beach uses innovative technologies to collect and analyze water and weather conditions and develop a system that will provide beachgoers with real-time information on local water conditions, including rough surf and the presence of rip currents so that they can stay safe at the beach.
The first of its kind in North America
The Municipal Innovation Council (MIC) has partnered with Dr. Chris Houser, an expert in coastal geomorphology, to pilot a Smart Beach project in Kincardine, Ontario—the first of its kind in North America.
Dr. Houser has experience in coastal communities around the world, including Costa Rica, Texas, Florida, Prince Edward Island and now, along the Great Lakes.
Over the next three years, the Smart Beach project will expand to other coastal communities in the Municipal Innovation Council, with the potential to scale this project to other beaches along the Great Lakes.
The science behind the Smart Beach project
The Smart Beach project uses innovative technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence), rip current detection, wireless communications, remote sensing, machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT) and public education around water hazards.
Sensors will collect weather, wave and water data, as well as rip current information
Monitoring the distribution of beach users, wave formation and rip current detection, with anonymized faces and no identifying information collected.
What is a rip current?
Rip currents are powerful currents of water flowing away from shore because of wave breaking. These currents do not pull people under the water; they pull people away from shore.
Rip currents are common in the Great Lakes and can develop based on the shape, size and layout of the nearshore sandbars or where there are obstacles such as groynes (underwater structures) or jetties.
Rips caused by nearshore sandbars can appear as relatively flat dark water between areas of breaking waves.
To escape the grip of a rip, do not fight the current. Swim parallel to the shore to find the safest path back to the beach.
Structures like piers and breakwaters are dangerous on their own. But when paired with rip currents and incoming waves, the combination can move swimmers far offshore and from one dangerous current area to another with no clear path to safety.
Steer clear of the pier: avoid jumping off or swimming near piers. The currents found along these structures are often dangerously strong.