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Places Leisure is one of the first leisure operators in the UK to introduce a new AI-driven swimming pool technology system designed to support lifeguards and elevate swimming pool safety.

Installed at Tewkesbury Leisure Centre, which the social enterprise manages on behalf of Tewkesbury Borough Council, the revolutionary system gives lifeguards an unprecedented range of vision.

Keith Evans, Director of Safety & Risk at Places Leisure, says: “It’s important that we remain at the forefront of technology. People expect lifeguards to see everything; it’s a huge pressure on them. This new system observes people’s patterns and behaviours and alerts lifeguards via a smartwatch to behaviours that signal distress. It means our lifeguards can more quickly assess situations and react appropriately. By providing more support for our lifeguard team, we ensure another layer of safety for our customers.”

The new system from assisted lifeguard technology company Lynxight has been brought to the UK and Ireland by the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), working in collaboration to support swimming pool operators in the UK and Ireland. Installed in nine countries and rigorously tested to meet the stringent needs of UK pool operators, the advanced pool safety service uses AI to identify and prevent potential incidents while improving pool safety and operations.

“Conventional pool safety systems require underwater cameras, but a warranty on the pool tank at Tewkesbury prevented us from drilling into the side of the pool. The Lynxight system uses standard CCTV cameras. Unlike other systems, it is not affected by glare or turbidity and provides lifeguards with a view of what’s happening above and below the water, including what’s outside their line of sight,” says Evans.

How does it work?

Lynxight is a pool safety and analytics service designed to manage and mitigate aquatic risks. AI software connects to standard overhead security cameras to deliver real-time alerts on drowning and other water distress situations. Suitable for use in almost all swimming pools, it continuously monitors pool users and alerts lifeguards via their waterproof smartwatch about those pool users who may require assistance. Image reconstruction is used to correct footage through ripples and splashes to ensure everyone can be monitored, while swimming behaviour algorithms help the system detect those who need help.

The smartwatch vibrates and sounds an alarm when the system identifies an incident. The location of the incident appears on the watch, as well as the time since the start of the incident. There are three alerts:

  • blue – advisory, e.g., overcrowding
  • yellow – a pool user may be in distress
  • red – dangerous submersion

Smarter pool management

In addition to the alerts and safety capabilities, the system provides real-time and recorded data, including the number of users in each pool, the location of users, and the record of any alerts that the system creates. The data is useful to operators, helping them make more informed decisions about pool operations, including pool timetable, usage, and energy to reduce costs and run the pool more efficiently.

“The pool usage data and activity analytics will help our performance management. For example, currently, we manually count people coming in and out of our pools to manage bather numbers and pool safety. The system does a digital headcount and sends the information to the lifeguard’s smartwatch in real-time, which is a much more efficient process. The information is stored on the platform, so managers can see the usage of the pool at certain times and days,” says Evans.

The system also provides a heat map showing the location of people in the pool, giving managers greater insight into capacity rates and utilization and potentially identifying new opportunities for activities in under-utilised spaces to generate revenue.

Quick, easy, and cost-effective

The Lynxight system utilises standard HD IP CCTV cameras connected directly to a computer, using CAT6e cabling, which ensures the installation is quick and very cost-effective. Omega Security Systems took just one week to install at Tewkesbury Leisure Centre, and the system covers the main and learner pool. 

Richard Ward, managing director of Omega Security Systems, says: “We have provided electronic security systems to the leisure sector for over 30 years. As soon as we saw this system, we knew it had the potential to be huge. The system can be installed without closing and draining the pool, damaging pool tiles, and investing in costly waterproofing. There is no downtime, no loss of revenue, and no impact on the public.” 

An NSI Gold accredited company, Omega, surveyed the Tewkesbury centre, capturing photos and videos from diverse angles to identify the optimal locations for cameras before installing them and the requirements for all the necessary cabling and infrastructure. 

“All we need is power and internet access; we can handle the rest. Lynxight then dials in to install the software. It couldn’t be easier.” 

Making pools safer for everyone

The benefits of AI are being felt across all aspects of modern life. As the UK’s leading swimming pool water safety organisation, RLSS UK has been at the forefront of supporting pool operators with qualifications, guidance, consultancy, and expert training to meet evolving water safety challenges for over 30 years. RLSS UK spent several years investigating the benefits of technology and AI for lifeguarding and lifesaving before partnering with Lynxight to bring the solution to the UK.

“The system complements the highly skilled work of trained lifeguards and is supported by world-leading international research. As a cost-effective solution, we believe the Lynxight system will allow more operators to benefit from the technology, making pools even safer for everyone,” says Jo Talbot, commercial director from RLSS UK.

Click here to find out how you can make your pools safer and smarter