2021 Chris Drummond installing Coastal Imaging cameras. Photo Matt Blacka UNSW WRL

World-leading coastal monitoring system becomes award winning too

WRL’s mainstream Coastal Imaging program has achieved significant milestones recently, becoming the largest Coastal Imaging network in the world – and award winning too!

The award winning team: Bill Martin (Geoplex), Chris Drummond (UNSW WRL), Brittany Dahl (Geoplex), Matt Blacka (UNSW WRL), and Alex Vincent (Geoplex).With 45 cameras now providing continuous coverage of over 30 km of Gold Coast coastline, we have completed what is the most advanced beach monitoring system globally in collaboration with geospatial mapping specialists, Geoplex. The project recently received the NSW Asia-Pacific Spatial Excellence Award (APSEA) in the Technical Excellence category.

Matt Blacka, Principal Coastal Engineer, said the project takes the beach monitoring systems that have been used for the past 20 years to the next level.

“When our team started this project, we really wanted to stretch the envelope and ultimately develop a product that was much more useable for council. This system improves the visualisation of remote beaches, improves accessibility and enables better use of the imagery and data products.”

“We’re now able to look at a much broader range of data including beach user numbers and locations, wave breaking characteristics, beach safety and overall beach health. It’s no longer just about beach erosion and accretion.”

The cameras are installed along high-rise rooftops and lifeguard towers to provide images of the coastline and then combined with image-based mapping of spatial data. This information is analysed and displayed on a live dashboard to view and assess beach conditions.

Bill Martin, Geoplex NSW Business Manager, said “The overall platform is the most sophisticated and large-scale coastal monitoring system in the world, serving up geo-referenced imagery of the beaches and other spatial data sets that directly help stakeholders to manage the beaches.”

“The development of an interactive web dashboard allows users to see the latest imagery and to interact with data records on maps and plots. This data is automatically analysed, in combination with other environmental conditions such as waves and tides, to provide real-time metrics on beach health and climate risks.”



The camera network helps the City of Gold Coast to manage its famous beaches, from Letitia Spit to South Stradbroke which attract more than 47 million locals and tourists each year, with a tourism and surfing industry worth an estimated $7.5 billion annually to the local economy.

For further information about WRL's Coastal Imaging visit: ci.wrl.unsw.edu.au


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