Pool safety camera
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (January 2010)|
Aquatics video monitoring systems are broken into two categories:
Passive systems provide lifeguards with unparalleled views of below water swimmer activity and behaviour. The views are displayed at the lifeguard position/chair allowing them to incorporate them into their 10:20 scan to help with early identification of an incident developing or abnormal events occurring. They are primarily a means of addressing the physical limitations of viewing through glare and into blind spots in the swimming pool tank. They are designed to make the lifeguards job easier. Active systems are designed to replace lifeguards in an attempt to address the physical limitations imposed by the human factor.
Monitoring systems are further broken into three broad classes:
- Viewing aids
- Remote monitoring
- Computer-aided drowning detection.
Viewing aids are underwater video cameras for lifeguards to see various views underwater simultaneously without having to move. They can be used for all types of swimming pools. Cameras can view areas which would otherwise be obstructed. These systems are favoured by local authority pools in the UK as they provide additional vision for the lifeguards rather than attempting to replace them with unreliable artificial intelligence. All cameras are recorded in real-time and the below water cameras are normally paired with above water cameras providing face-to-body matching if there is an incident where a swimmer needs to be identified but may not show their face below the water (for example paedophilia). The largest installer of this type of system in the UK is Poolview Ltd.
Remote monitoring is the next step in video surveillance of swimming pools. It uses the same technology as the viewing aids class, and includes recording and storage capability. Remote monitoring is effective in documenting the chain of events surrounding any questionable situation. If used as a location from which to actively monitor the pool, these systems face limitations. Users must remain alert, viewing the screen without distraction for hours at a time. Screen placement for active monitoring means that response time may be increased due to the nature of a single location from which to respond. Active monitoring with this system also means an increase in manpower costs, as the majority of US state's aquatic safety laws will not authorize using this system in lieu of lifeguards on the deck.
Remote monitoring includes the recording of video for insurance purposes, to prove that there was no negligence on the part of the pool operator, or the staff (e.g. evidence of horseplay, drunkenness, etc., leading up to an incident). These systems are primarily limited to documenting the course of events for later review due to the difficulties of adapting to active monitoring usage.
Computer-aided drowning detection
Computer-aided drowning detection systems, such as the Poseidon System and Drowning Early Warning System (DEWS) are the most technologically advanced category in aquatics video monitoring. These feed the video from the cameras into a computerized monitoring software package capable of tracking the activity of swimmers and alerting staff if swimmers exhibit known behaviors associated with drowning. These systems are mainly limited to static water pools, and are not yet operational in the chaotic environment of a wave pool, whirlpool, jacuzzi, or other motion-based novelty rides. Being video-based, neither system is capable of operating in dark-water environments such as lagoons, lake-fronts or beach fronts.
Active monitoring systems attempt to provide the benefits of the video monitoring and remote monitoring classes of systems coupled with the additional benefit of another "set of eyes" watching over swimmers, however the camera views are not typically provided to the lifeguard positions but a normally shown on a screen mounted on a wall away from the lifeguards. Other drawbacks to this system include the virtual impossibility of calibrating such a system to recognize all possible activities of pool patrons. As a result, these systems tend to generate false alarms.
As of November 2012 there are six main manufacturers of pool safety cameras: