How Tech Will Make Beaches Safer

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David Hucks
David Hucks is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at

We like to think of the beach as a place to relax and let go of our worries. For the most part, that’s exactly what it is! However, there are often a number of different ways in which beaches can be somewhat hazardous. While we’re not at all suggesting that beaches should be thought of as dangerous, there are some health and safety risks to be mindful of, such as particularly strong sun, powerful currents, bacteria concentrations, and even the occasional spike in shark sightings.

Again, these factors don’t mean that beaches are necessarily dangerous. But they do necessitate that we make our beaches as safe as we can. And in the effort to do just that, technology is likely to take the lead moving forward.

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There are two technologies in particular that appear to be poised to improve beach safety: 5G networks and printed circuit boards. The potential impact of the coming 5G networks has been described as a “once-in-a-decade upgrade to our wireless systems” — and crucially one that will touch not only our individual smartphones, but also a vast network of other connected devices. Basically, 5G is poised to expand wireless connectivity, such that we’ll enjoy smoother, faster, and more wide-ranging connections. This is convenient for us as individuals, but it’s also likely to result in a variety of sensors and other products (some of which we’ll touch on below) being useful on beaches. Small devices designed to help keep beaches safe will be deployed with the full connectivity they need to operate.

Printed circuit boards, meanwhile, or PCBs, are essentially the other side of the 5G equation. That is to say, while 5G will establish powerful, wide-ranging networks, improved circuit boards will enable the relevant devices to actually connect with those networks. Currently, the best PCB antenna design software is enabling engineers to create tiny printed circuit boards with very strong connectivity potential. In other words, PCBs are being made that can fit into small sensors and weatherproof devices (such as we’ll need on beaches), but still pack the antenna power they need to help devices link up with networks and perform their functions.

Combine these technologies and you effectively get the potential for the Internet of Things (or IoT) to expand to beaches. This is likely a pleasant inevitability even in the next few years, and it will bring about numerous safety-related perks.

For one thing, better beach connectivity would enable more widespread usage of the bacteria reading devices that we’ve posted about in the past. These are small pieces of tech that can connect to the Department of Health and Environmental Control (or potentially other similar services) in order to receive information regarding bacteria readings in the water. Placed on signage or posts at intervals on beaches, these devices can use the information they receive to alert would-be swimmers to less-than-safe conditions.

Beyond this specific topic though, similar sensors could be used to alert beachgoers to other dangers as well. In fact, when you consider the most dangerous things at the beach — rip currents, heat stroke, strong sun, and even high concentrations of animals like sharks or jellyfish — they can all come with warnings. Of course a given person may be more susceptible to heat than others, and a given shark or jellyfish can appear without warning. By and large though, these dangers relate to conditions that can be predicted, and already are on a daily basis. Various services tell us when the sun might be particularly dangerous, or when there might be strong currents. Wireless devices may soon communicate with those services in order to relay information to people on the beach.

In some cases this will happen the way we discussed bacteria reading devices can work. Ideally though, we’ll soon have beach safety devices that both receive information and send it out. They will connect with beachgoers’ devices to send relevant safety alerts and updates, and in doing so make our beaches that much safer and easier to enjoy.

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