Lifeguards at Imperial Beach in San Diego, California were facing failing analog telephone lines and escalating lease line charges on their critical tower telecommunications system. In addition, they were hard pressed to adequately monitor a 50-yard-long section of shoreline after a portable tower was removed from the area during an improvement project in 2009. That section of the beach, although vulnerable to dangerous riptides, draws a large crowd. The blind spot that resulted for lifeguards when the tower was removed presented a safety concern as swimmers could easily go undetected into that stretch of beach and be overcome by the currents.
Installing a high-speed, wireless infrastructure to support VoIP communications and video backhauls provided a cost-effective foundation for solving all of the issues. VoIP telephone links provided secure voice communication between the dispatch supervisor and the individual lifeguards, eliminating lease line costs being spent for the lifeguard towers every month as well as hundreds of man hours of annual line maintenance time. A HD video camera for the area of the beach that was out of eye's view alleviated the safety concern and extended the ability of the lifeguards to fulfill their mission.
The dispatch tower is situated in the middle of the pier and looks back to the beach providing the lifeguards with a good birds' eye view of all the swimmers in the water. This new method of dispatch allows them to communicate situations such as swimmers in riptide, riptides moving up and down coast, stingray attacks and all types of events they need to be aware of to perform their jobs effectively.
Imperial Beach has six portable and two permanent lifeguard towers covering about one mile of beach. The city's four full-time and 50 part-time lifeguards made 960 rescues in 2009.
After a bidding and review process, the project was awarded and started in April 2010. The integrator selected was TemeCom. Based in Temecula, California, TemeCom provides customized products and services focused on telecommunications, dispatch, wireless voice and monitoring applications.
"The site lent itself beautifully to a wireless solution. Everything is situated within a one-mile stretch of beach with an unobstructed line of sight,” said TemeCom integrators. Making use of the southern California sun, the tower systems are 100-percent solar powered. The wireless system allows Imperial Beach to get rid of their old copper lines that were tethered to the towers. Now they have the flexibility to move the towers as required without having to trench and lay new cable.