Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) and Emsisoft, a global Antivirus Software Company operating from New Zealand, are proud to announce an exciting new partnership project that will map currents and rips around key New Zealand beaches this summer.
The project will use 'drifters' to plot GPS data and drones to accurately map the rip currents and their behaviours. This will measure the physical layout of the (topographic) headland rip current across a range of different swell, tidal and wind conditions during a six week period on selected beaches.
Rips are one of the biggest problems along New Zealand's coastline and last year alone, seven people drowned as the result of a rip. Every year, lifeguards undertake an average of 1,200 rescues and around 85% of those are the result of rips.
SLSNZ national lifesaving manager Allan Mundy says up until now, data on currents has been mapped from 500m off-shore. The project, made possible with the support of Emsisoft, will provide more accurate data which will lead to a better understanding of the workings of rip currents at different locations.
"If someone should get swept away in a rip, having the knowledge and understanding of the currents in that particular location will help narrow down the search area," he says.
Mr Mundy says the data collection will involve a collaboration of SLSNZ lifeguards and Coastguard New Zealand personnel to carry out the deployment and retrieval of the GPS drifters, which can easily replicate a swimmer within a rip current due to their weight and drifting nature.
"Half of the drifters will be modified so they will sink below the water's surface to mimic how a body behaves once it becomes submerged after a drowning. This data will be priceless as it will help searchers better identify where to look for lost persons in the benthic current (the current on the bottom of the sea floor) which we don't currently have data on, he says.
"Dyes and similar drifters used in the past have only been observed within surface currents which often flow in very different directions to the currents on the sea floor."
The information gathered through the project will be added to a database which will assist in future current predictions during lost person's searches and the method will be used to set a data standard for future research on additional sites around the country.
"It's a really good use of technology that will help provide valuable data and benefit many different search and rescue operations, helping to lead searchers to patients much quicker," Mundy says.
A trial run of the project will take place at Piha Beach on Auckland's West Coast between November 15-18.
Emsisoft, a New Zealand-based company for Windows and Android security software with a global focus, provides anti-malware solutions for the home and business user. Online surf protection is at the core of their business. With the recently launched partnership with SLSNZ, their business will now also protect the safety of those in the water.
Christian Mairoll, CEO of Emsisoft says "prevention has always been our core philosophy at Emsisoft. Our shared belief in quality online surf protection led to the partnership with Surf Life Saving New Zealand- we share the same values and goals to offer efficient and life-saving protection. We are proud and happy to be able to support such life saving research."
For more information about Emsisoft visit https://www.emsisoft.com
SLSNZ National Lifesaving Manager Allan Mundy.
Lisa Smith, Media & Communications Manager,
Phone 0276 488 823