This past summer, I noticed a trend across the nation. A major shortage of qualified lifeguards at pools, beaches, and even water parks. This shortage has led to delayed openings and shortened hours in many pools, closures of public beaches, and more ‘swim at your own risk’ signs across the nation. On further research, I found that this shortage has been an ongoing epidemic for past few years.
Shortage of qualified lifeguards puts the lives of swimmers at risk. Multiple reasons are cited for this shortage – relatively low pay, inability to take smart phones to work, summer internships, and rigorous certification process, among many other reasons. Many efforts have been exercised to reduce this shortage of lifeguards – improved marketing, encouraging retirees, paying for certification, getting foreign students on temporary visa, and many more, but nothing seems to have solved the problem.
As I have always believed, with every challenge comes new opportunities. It is time to tap in to new technology of robots and drones to help meet this shortage. By any means, I am not advocating replacement of lifeguards with technology but rather enable them to do more with less. My intention is to explore opportunities to make the lifeguards more effective by augmenting them with gadgets that enable watch over a wide area and issue timely alerts for swimmer distress. Make swimming safe!
Some of the innovative minds are already upping their games. For instance, Microdrones recently demonstrated the ability to rescue a swimmer in distress and Poolview built an artificial vision system to detect drowning accidents in pools. Considering the direction in which the technology and our society is heading, we might have better luck in finding qualified drone pilots and lifeguard who would prefer an artificial vision system along with the whistle. It is time to encourage and support Life Saving Entrepreneurs!
– Meghna Sil