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Sun, Sand and Smart Technology

By Isabella Puentes on June 26, 2019 in News

Randwick beachies Jake and Pat at Coogee, by Mark Bond.

Spending a day at the beach is one of Australia’s favourite pastimes. The ancient ritual of the sunburnt nose, salty hair and sandy toes. And let’s not forget the chaos of public transport, big swells and dangerous currents, and the possibility of a jellyfish sting.
With Randwick Council’s new program, set to roll out in the upcoming months, the dread of finding the last parking spot amid summer beach visitors will be a thing of the past.
The Coogee Smart Beach Program will implement new technology across Coogee Beach and will expand along Coogee Bay Road. The program is a part of the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program Grant from the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities.
The plan will include a range of new facilities including free high speed Wi-Fi, a CCTV network along Coogee Beach and Coogee Bay Road and sensors on the barbecues to alert Council as to when they need to be cleaned.
Randwick Mayor Kathy Neilson explained that the primary goal of the program is to improve the accessibility at Coogee.
“These innovations will allow visitors to Coogee Beach to make data-driven decisions that will allow them to find parking spots more quickly, assess beach conditions accurately and enjoy well-maintained facilities,” Ms Neilson said.
One of the key innovations to be included as a part of the plan is new beach signage. The new infrastructure will inform visitors about real-time beach conditions such as air and water temperature, wind direction, solar UV rating, wave height and swell and the presence of rips and other beach hazards. Smart parking sensors will also be introduced and will notify drivers of the nearest available parking spots.
Coogee resident Sinead Martin enjoys the many benefits of living near the beach including early morning swims, lovely walks and a vibrant nightlife. She also acknowledges the unpredictability of off-street parking as a disadvantage of living in a highly visited suburb.
“It’s a burden sometimes having to find a parking spot quite a long way from my apartment and this seems to be a common complaint among my neighbours,” she told The Beast.
“I try to avoid driving and instead use public transport, but sometimes it’s too unreliable, especially when travelling to work in the morning.”
“I’m looking forward to the new technology; hopefully it will make my afternoon commute less stressful,” she said.
Public transport will also receive an upgrade, with real-time information about the fastest departure routes and estimated wait times for ride-sharing services to be made available.
While in the long-term these innovations aim to increase convenience, Council has also considered the challenges and short-term disturbances. A Council spokesperson explained that testing and evaluation will be important to ensure all facilities are running effectively before being rolled out more broadly.
“Summer is very busy at Coogee and getting access to install and test this equipment without getting in the way of beachgoers will be important,” the spokesperson said.
“We are lucky to have one of the most beautiful beaches in the country at our doorstep,” said Ms Martin. “It’s important we share it with others and make it easier for visitors who have travelled long distances to enjoy it.”