The early sun rises and warms the nearshore of Mt Maunganui. As winter leaves us in the southern end of the world, it descends upon those in the Northern Hemisphere. Who isn’t dreaming of escaping to white sand and emerald water? Every summer worldwide, thousands of swimmers flock to their local beaches. Today in New Zealand is no exception.
For most of the year, for the team at Emsisoft, the online world is where we live. It can be a malicious environment, much like real life where a seemingly nice place can become treacherous in an instant. There are threats lurking everywhere online in the same way that any beach under the wrong conditions can become incredibly dangerous.
Just like in the online world, so it happens every day where people find themselves in serious danger when situations change quickly. The life of a lifeguard is one of constant alarm, where at any given moment they may be forced to run after people in need, jump, swim and conquer the wildest waves to save a life. Time is essential, and so is knowledge. Here at Emsisoft we share the same belief as Surf Life Saving New Zealand: In real life and online – prevention is the key to safety.
In November 2016, Emsisoft and Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) partnered up and proudly announced a world first research project: using high-tech drifters (underwater transmitting devices that monitor water currents) to map currents and rips to gain knowledge and understanding of threats and dangers for surfers – a locally executed study of high international importance. If researchers understand how the malicious rips and currents behave, accidents can be prevented and struggling swimmers can be rescued even faster – and more safely. So is it unexpected for a software company providing Anti-Malware software Emsisoft to back SLSNZ? Not at all. At Emsisoft, we’re eager to make an actual difference: Improving Surf Protection in the real world as well as protecting your digital life.
Prevention is key
Not only in New Zealand but worldwide there has been a constant rise in drowning deaths in recent years. In 2015 the NZ drowning toll was 113 – a 26% increase on 2014’s deaths. Water Safety New Zealand Chief Executive Matt Claridge explains that “with 86 (76%) of the deaths classified as preventable, this toll comes at a huge social cost. The impact of these deaths on families and communities is significant.” According to the International Lifesaving Federation drownings worldwide has reached epidemic levels.
“The best scientific evidence available has taught us that 1.2 million people around the world die by drowning every year, that is more than two persons per minute. From that more than 50 percent are children. There are perhaps eight to ten times that many who experience a drowning process but who reach safety alone or are rescued by their peers, by others or by lifesavers/lifeguards.”
Lifeguards give their everything to make sure people stay safe, not only jumping on boats to rescue struggling swimmers but also studying research rips and currents, with drones and drifters to prevent incidents in the first place. They work voluntarily with limited resources and restricted time periods throughout the year that they are able to fully patrol beaches. This vital research will aid to educate all water safety organisations on the current and rip conditions of a given area meaning swimmers can be warned of any risks with appropriate signage. Handing swimmers the tools to remain safe at unsupervised beaches is equally as important as educating surf life savers.
We at Emsisoft try to do the same by combining a small team with a big mission: keeping surfers safe.
The science underneath big waves
This research project will deliver plotted GPS data with the help of high-tech drones to accurately map the same rip currents and their behaviors from above. This will measure the physical layout of the headland rip currents across a range of different swell, tidal and wind conditions. If current patterns can be predicted, water safety measures can be enforced in times of dangerous water conditions. Not only in New Zealand, but worldwide.
Stay tuned for the behind the scenes footage of the trial and keep up with us on our Facebook page for regular updates on this incredible project.