Red alert on red tape: Spectur urges councils to expedite safety systems

Local councils have been urged to review their beach safety measures after an Australian tech company’s device played a crucial role in the rescue of a drowning fisherman this week.

Local councils have been urged to review their beach safety measures after an Australian tech company’s device played a crucial role in the rescue of a drowning fisherman this week.

The incident in northern NSW marks at least the third time since February that Spectur’s internet and AI-enabled camera platforms have assisted lifesavers on Australia’s coastlines.

The scene as captured by Spectur’s camera after onlookers sounded the alarm. Source: Supplied

With almost three in every 100,000 Australians affected by drowning incidents (both fatal and non-fatal) each year, Spectur MD Gerard Dyson said he hopes to work more proactively with councils to roll out additional systems and potentially save more lives.

“We’re working with 49 councils around Australia on a range of safety, security and environmental issues, and speaking with Surf Life Saving organisations too,” he said.

“In addition to raising awareness about the capability of the technology, the challenge is that these systems are being installed on council land, and on environmentally sensitive coastal regions too, and the approval process for implementing them is taking longer than even the councils want it to.”

Spectur’s Australian-made camera systems operate autonomously, powering themselves through in-built solar panels and using specialised, low-power and low-data processing and electronics to wirelessly monitor remote areas. These systems can also now be used as an emergency warning system, and in recent cases as a remote communications platform.  

This means Spectur’s cameras not only watch and record, but can identify people in danger or potential criminal or antisocial behaviour and take action – notifying emergency or security personnel, activating on-board light or speaker systems, or opening communication between people in trouble and a control centre.

While Dr Dyson acknowledged that installing a camera on sensitive coastlines wouldn’t be without some impact, the wireless nature of Spectur’s system meant the footprint would be negligible at best.

“We can also uninstall them very quickly and leave the area basically the same as it was before the camera was put in,” he said.

“We started this company to make our communities safer and we’ve had really positive responses from the groups we’ve worked with, but these approval delays could be putting people at risk.

“We need to improve this process so we can continue to roll out our systems, because the alternative is doing nothing while people are in trouble.”

Saving precious minutes and, in turn, a man’s life

Fingal Head’s Dreamtime Beach in NSW, nestled on a stretch of coast just south of the Queensland border, has been recognised as one of Australia’s best beaches.

It’s an accolade that many of the locals are wary of, owing to the area’s dangerous and often fatal mix of rips and underwater hazards – at least five beachgoers lost their lives there between 2015 and 2018 and some argue it is irresponsible to promote the beach to tourists.

This history of danger prompted the local surf lifesaving organisation to install one of Spectur’s Emergency Response Beacons on the unpatrolled beach. This recent addition to the cliff-lined beach proved critical in the rescue of the fisherman washed out into choppy conditions on Sunday morning.

Onlookers who saw the man struggling in rough waters activated the Spectur system, which connected them directly to the central operations of surf lifesaving who organised for a team to rush to the beach with jet skis and pull the man from the water.

The direct line of communication saved precious minutes that might have been lost with a triple-0 call, which would require an emergency service line dispatcher to find and then contact the appropriate team and describe the situation as it had been relayed from witnesses.

“Minutes absolutely count when a life is at stake,” Dr Dyson said.

“Surf lifesaving can also organise for an ambulance to come, but you only need an ambulance if you can get people out of the water first.

“We’re immensely proud – everyone from our engineers to our sales team – that our system helped save another life. It’s also why we want to get our cameras on more beaches across Australia, New Zealand and beyond.”

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Reach Corporate provides Corporate Advisory Services, including managing investor communications on behalf of Spectur Limited and will receive fees for its services.


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