Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett
Beachsafe App Improves Hazard Warnings
Victor P Taffa
- Smartphone app an important new tool for beach safety
- Beachsafe app and website has details of 3,494 WA beaches, including shark sighting information and hazards
- Metro helicopter patrols resume this weekend and extend to 7 days a week in October
West Australians will have an important new tool to provide updates on sharks and other beach hazards with the launch today of Surf Life Saving WA’s (SLSWA) Beachsafe smartphone app.
Premier Colin Barnett said the app was powered by a beach information database developed over more than 20 years.
The app was developed with $50,000 from the State Government’s shark mitigation strategy targeted at increasing community awareness of sharks and other beach hazards.
“As well as developing this app, Government funding has also allowed for the enhancement of the WA beach web pages and the inclusion of shark sighting information and hazard reporting online.” Premier Barnett said.
The Premier said there had been 26 drownings off the WA coast since July 2012.
“That is a tragically high number. These statistics highlight the dangers of swimming at unpatrolled beaches, rock fishing, abalone fishing and going out in dangerous conditions.” Premier Barnett said.
“As part of improving beach safety, it is really important beachgoers have the opportunity to find out for themselves if a beach is safe for them and their families.”
“That means not just checking to see if there have been shark sightings in the area, but also looking at factors such as the swell, the wind, if there are rips around and if a beach is patrolled or not.”
“If one particular beach is not suitable for that beachgoer, another alternative, perhaps with more wind protection or fewer waves, for example, could be suitable.”
“Having this information available on an app for mobile devices means people can check conditions from anywhere with a phone signal at short notice.”
The Beachsafe app and website is multilingual and can be translated into 72 different languages to cater for new Australians and tourists.
In order to ensure the Beachsafe information is up-to-date, SLSWA’s communications centre Surfcom will operate 365 days a year to process the information and data requiring input to Beachsafe.
Premier Barnett said SLSWA would resume weekend helicopter patrols this weekend and seven-day a week patrols from the start of October.
The South-West helicopter will begin patrols on November 23 and continue until the end of school holidays in early February 2014. It will also conduct patrols over the March and Easter long weekends.
- Beachsafe website and smart phone app has details for all 3,494 WA beaches, including patrol info (where applicable), hazards and warnings, weather information, shark sightings, rescue stats, beach information and hazard ratings
- SLSWA helicopters patrolled for 751 hours in the 2012-13 season and spotted 285 sharks
- SLSWA services performed 1,096 rescues & 8,052 first aid treatments in the 2012-13 season
- State Government has allocated $300,000 for a beach observation tower at Cottesloe
- State Government has also committed $300,000 over two years to improve rock fishing safety measures at hazardous spots around the coast
- More than $6 Million in State Budget 2013-14 for initiatives including patrols, shark tagging and tracking and research projects