While Atlantic City and the Jersey Shore are known for summertime fun, rip currents, surf, and sharks can make the beaches dangerous for swimmers who are unaware of the risks. Over Labor Day Weekend this year, four people drowned along the Jersey Shore when caught in strong currents. The National Weather Service reports that 85 people have died so far in 2023 because of rip currents and high surf. And as the ocean temperature shifts, reports of shark sightings and attacks are becoming more frequent on the Eastern seaboard.
On October 10, 2023, the Atlantic City Fire Department and other local public safety units demonstrated how drones equipped with cameras, PA systems and inflatable rescue devices can be used to safeguard swimmers on local beaches.
Drones offer an effective tool for lifeguarding, providing eyes in the sky beyond the break. Equipped with cameras, PA systems, and inflatable rescue devices drones can help lifeguards tell swimmer they’re out too far; see sharks, whales, or other wildlife in time to warn swimmers; or deliver rescue devices to swimmers in distress while lifeguards from the shore reach them.
These use cases have been demonstrated before on beaches overseas from Australia to Rio de Janeiro. Drones provide a major benefit to communities, while operating in the very low risk environment over the water.
The drone demonstration event was conducted in collaboration with the National Aerospace Research and Technology Park (NARTP), which is at the center of Southern New Jersey’s evolution as a hub of aviation and air mobility technology and innovation, and the New Jersey Smart Airport and Aviation Partnership (SAAP). It is sponsored by the Atlantic County Economic Alliance (ACEA).
The Atlantic City Beach Patrol and our Office of Emergency Management do an outstanding job protecting swimmers on our beaches,” said Scott K. Evans, Atlantic City Fire Chief and Office of Emergency Management Coordinator. “But with several miles of beach to patrol, millions of swimmers entering the water annually, and sometimes potentially dangerous surf and rip currents to deal with, every available resource helps. Drone technology can expand the reach and reduce the response time of lifeguards and public safety crews responsible. We are a proud leader in the use of drones to enhance public safety.”
“We continue to find innovative ways to use UAS technology as part of our mission to make South Jersey a hub for aviation and air mobility technology,” said Howard J. Kyle, President of the National Aerospace Research and Technology Park. “Using emerging technologies to improve public safety is critical, as is keeping our communities and the people who live in and visit them safe. Which is why we are partnering with Atlantic City public safety officials to conduct these simulations to test how best to use drone technology in emergency response situations.”
These beach/flight simulations are part of an ongoing series of emergency management exercises focused on enhancing public safety that began in 2017 in Cape May County. The exercises are planned to continue, featuring both local and other first responders, including the United States Coast Guard in early 2024.
Soaring to new heights, together.
Be sure to visit the BWU Technology Partnerships Initiative website to learn more about how our NEOFIX program drives economic growth, promotes policy and infrastructure to improve drone safety and efficiency in various industries, and ensures that drone technology is being used responsibly.