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How you’ll be watched on the beach this summer

Sydney authorities fearing a surge of seaside crowds will use a range of hi-tech gadgets to watch beachgoers this summer, as the coronavirus pandemic continues.From monitoring of Wi-Fi signals to drones and AI, councils are getting creative in their quest to avoid having the city’s iconic beaches turn into COVID-19 hot spots.Across the city, eyes…

Sydney authorities fearing a surge of seaside crowds will use a range of hi-tech gadgets to watch beachgoers this summer, as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

From monitoring of Wi-Fi signals to drones and AI, councils are getting creative in their quest to avoid having the city’s iconic beaches turn into COVID-19 hot spots.

Across the city, eyes on the ground will be officials’ most important tool to make sure crowds don’t reach capacity. But Waverley Council, home to Bondi and Bronte Beaches, will also monitor the number of people who take advantage of the free Wi-Fi in the area, a spokesman said in response to questions from NCA NewsWire.

Visitors to Manly Beach, meanwhile, will be watched by AI-boosted cameras that have been in place since before the coronavirus pandemic. The Northern Beaches Council’s partnership with tech firm Smart Beaches has been promoted as a case study in the NSW Government’s COVID Safe Summer Plan.

“Connected cameras at [ …] and Manly and Shelly beaches use artificial intelligence to count and monitor crowd numbers, allowing lifeguards to manage beach safety”, the Government writes in the Safe Summer Plan.

According to the Northern Beaches Council’s own action plan for the summer, there are also plans to use drones to watch over beachgoers at Manly and other popular beaches in the district.

“The drones will be beaming pictures to lifesavers, with professional lifeguards and volunteers monitoring that”, said a council spokesman.

A draft of Randwick Council’s COVID-19 plan, seen by NCA NewsWire, shows there is talk of using drones to watch sunbathers at Maroubra, Coogee and Clovelly beaches as well.

Woollahra, Bayside and Sutherland Shire Councils will rely on lifeguards and other officials on the ground to watch for crowd numbers.

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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus.