Programmable Lifeguards: Combining Surf Cameras and Computer Vision to Identify Rip Currents

Authors: Sean McGill*, University of South Carolina, Jean Ellis, University of South Carolina
Topics: Geomorphology, Oceanography, Remote Sensing
Keywords: Rip Currents, Remote Sensing, Computer Vision, Coastal Hazards
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Stones Throw 1 - Granite, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Rip currents are fast, narrow channels of offshore flowing water. These account for 80% of water rescues by lifeguards and 100 drowning deaths every year in the United States. Many of these drownings occur on unguarded beaches and areas where rescuers have slow response times. However, some unguarded beaches have surf cams and the have the potential surf cams and other closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) installation to monitor rip current activity. The goal of this research is to create a program that can accurately identify rip currents from live video footage. This program can be used for coastal management and beach goers to identify areas that are safe to swim because rip current identification is difficult to the untrained eye. The results from this research may have wide ranging applications because of the increasing popularity of video monitoring. Using surf cams, rather than traditional video systems, such as Argus, also makes this method more accessible.

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