November 15 - 21, 2020: Issue 474


Drones To Keep Our Beaches And Parks COVID-Safe This Summer

Photo by SLS NSW

Friday November 13, 2020

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO, Steven Pearce and Northern Beaches Council Mayor, Michael Regan today officially announced a new agreement between the two organisations to monitor some of Sydney’s most popular beaches and parks this summer using UAV (drone) technology. From tomorrow, Surf Life Saving NSW UAV pilots will monitor Sydney’s Northern Beaches and parks from the air and send real-time attendance information to Council officials to help ensure beaches can stay open and COVID-safe.

The partnership between Surf Life Saving NSW and Northern Beaches Council has been formed ahead of what is anticipated to be one of the busiest summers on record on Sydney’s beaches. With COVID-19 travel restrictions in place and overseas and interstate beach holidays perhaps not an option, holidaymakers are expected to flock to NSW beaches in greater numbers than ever.

In an attempt to ensure beaches can stay open during peak summer weekend and school holiday periods, Northern Beaches Council staff and surf lifesavers will work closely together to monitor numbers and provide up-to-the-minute information to the beach-going public so they can avoid beaches nearing COVID-safe capacity. High-resolution images taken by UAVs will be sent to Council and the new SLSNSW State Operations Centre where beach attendance data will be recorded.

This data will contribute to providing a bigger picture of overall beach attendances. Locations nearing capacity or where access is restricted can be viewed using the Beachsafe website and Beachsafe App. 

Northern Beaches Council Mayor, Michael Regan said Council had sought the partnership to increase the chances of beaches and parks across the Northern Beaches staying COVID-safe and open through the summer.

“This partnership is a critical part of our summer COVID safety operations,” Mayor Regan said.

“Our aim is to keep our popular beaches and parks open so locals and visitors alike can enjoy them to the full this summer.

“Using this real time data we can even more effectively manage our public spaces and reduce the COVID risk to beachgoers,” he said.

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce said that the partnership was a great example of the way Northern Beaches Council and Surf Life Saving NSW are innovating to keep beaches and public spaces open during summer and most importantly, the Northern Beaches community COVID-safe.

“Drones have become an indispensable tool in Surf Life Saving operations. In addition to providing important beach attendance information to councils and police who make beach access decisions, our UAVs are used for marine creature surveillance, search and rescue operations and spot beach hazards such as rips,” Steven Pearce said.

“We’ve been working with councils on smart ways to keep beaches open this summer ahead of what’s going to be a massive season on the NSW coastline. Nobody, least of all surf lifesavers, wants to close beaches, so the more information we can give people about beach attendance, ahead of them arriving on the sand to find it nearing COVID-safe attendance limits, the better.

“Thanks to our UAV technology and the Beachsafe website and app, beachgoers can easily identify less crowded beaches before they leave home,” he said.

The trial of the new UAV beach and park UAV surveillance service will begin this Saturday 14 November at 25 Northern Beaches Council beach and park locations.


  • Weekends and public holidays commencing 14th November 2020
  • Daily commencing 21 December (TBC) 2020
  • Weekends and public holidays from 31 January 2021
  • Cessation of Service 28 Feb 2021.



  • Little Manly Beach & Reserve
  • Shelly Beach
  • Manly Beach
  • North Steyne
  • Queenscliff
  • Freshwater + Reserve
  • South Curl Curl
  • Dee Why + Grass + James Meehan Reserve
  • Long Reef
  • Collaroy + Reserve
  • Narrabeen
  • North Narrabeen
  • Warriewood
  • Mona Vale
  • Bungan Beach
  • Newport
  • Bilgola
  • Avalon
  • Whale Beach
  • Palm Beach

Other Areas

  • Clontarf
  • Apex Park – Mona Vale
  • East and West Esplanade (Manly)
  • Governor Phillip Park – Palm Beach
  • Winnererremy Bay Reserve – Bayview

Today's announcement follows on from that made in September 2020 by council - visit: 'Promoting COVID-Safety On Our Beaches This Summer' and that made by the NSW State Government in October - visit:  Launch Of COVID Safe Summer Plan By NSW State Government