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Underwater ​cameras coming to Edmonton pools

By Nicole Weisberg

A pilot project that would see the installation of underwater cameras in three Edmonton pools is expected to get underway by 2017.
 
Participants at the 7th annual Alberta Red Cross Water Safety Conference in Edmonton in October learned about the initiative. “We are always striving to improve water safety in Canada,” said Sarah Jackson, Red Cross Water Safety Representative for northern Alberta and NWT. “Conferences like this are a great opportunity to learn from each other.”
 
After years of researching different technologies to make pools safer, City of Edmonton officials began accepting bids from companies to install new safety systems.
 
“There is nothing in Canada, in this area, at all – so we are looking at London, Italy and the States,” said John Mervyn, Facility Foreman with the City of Edmonton.
 
City staff began researching technologies like underwater cameras after two separate drowning fatalities at city pools in 2012.
 
City staff began researching technologies like underwater cameras after two separate drowning fatalities at city pools in 2012.

City officials holding new underwater cameras at recent Alberta Red Cross Water Safety Conference. Photo courtesy/ Keith Howie


“At that point, we had not had one (fatal drowning) for a large number of years,” said Rob Campbell, City of Edmonton Supervisor of Aquatic Strategies. “So we decided to really look at all of our practices for Lifeguards, Lifeguard training, surveillance of pools, Lifeguard positioning and all that stuff.”
 
There were more than 40 recommendations to improve safety in Edmonton pools including considering the use of drowning prevention technology.
 
City staff decided they wanted a system that allows Lifeguards to see what is happening under the water and also alerts them to unusual behaviour.
 
“What we are looking at is an extra level of protection,” said Mervyn.
 
The new technology will first be installed in Edmonton pools that have the worst water surface glare– Peter Hemingway, Kinsmen and Mill Woods.
 
“The next step is to get something in and start evaluating it,” said Campbell. “We aren’t sure if we need the look-and-see type thing, we don’t know if we need the drowning-detection software, so we are putting in both of them.”
 
Meryn hopes the city’s efforts will pave the way for other municipalities to start using new technology.
 
 “There is huge potential with this.”

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