Tsunami warning? Check for yourself

Tsunami warning? Check for yourself

Monday night’s tsunami warning for Australia’s southeast coastline following an undersea earthquake off New Zealand has prompted Coastalwatch, a coast and ocean monitoring website, to release details of a new feature where the public can check the danger levels of beaches for themselves.

CoastalCOMS, Coastalwatch's Coastal Conditions Monitoring System, which provides an automated real-time observation and data service for coastal monitoring to aid Federal and State tourism boards, councils, public safety agencies and coastal professionals, expects to have its CoastSAFE Alive link online this time next year.

Chris Lane, CoastalCOMS founder, explained the technology that will help people decide when and where to swim every day of the year.

“CoastSAFE Alive is a real-time assessment tool for beaches and the coastal environment, utilising a network of shore-mounted video cameras,” said Lane.

“The vision from the camera network provides a comprehensive database of beach conditions that will help lifeguards and lifesavers determine beach safety, pinpoint swimming risks and enable them to compare crowd numbers.

“These variables, along with data gained from the cameras, will either increase or decrease risk indexes on beaches, which will then give the public an indication of where and when to swim.

“The risk index will be automatically adjusted for warnings that are released on a regional basis. So in the future, for example, the risk index on South East coast beaches after the tsunami would be closer to 10 (the most dangerous) than one (the safest). The CoastSAFE Alive system could then form part of the alert system used by lifeguards and coastal management authorities to manage public safety on our beaches,” Lane said.

CoastalCOMS said it received a $1 million Smart State Innovation Projects Fund grant from the Queensland Government in August 2008 to develop the new technology and will hold an international workshop in September to take it worldwide. The coastal engineering and surf lifesaving experts will attend the workshop to look at the progress of the technology, and provide ideas and suggestions to CoastalCOMS on how the technology could be improved or enhanced in order to be useful worldwide.

CoastalCOMS said it is developing the CoastSAFE Alive technology in conjunction with Griffith University, Surf Life Saving Australia and Surf Life Saving Queensland with assistance from the Gold Coast City Council.

For more information, visit www.coastalwatch.com