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The County of Los Angeles Fire Department, Lifeguard Division, in partnership with the County of Los Angeles Department of Beaches and Harbors and the University of Southern California Sea Grant Program has created a network of web cameras weather stations and water thermometers to aid in staffing beaches, tracking rescue activity, creating public education materials, and collecting environmental data for use in pursuing our common goals of protecting and educating the public, safeguarding property and preserving the environment. Devices are installed along the 72 mile Los Angeles coastline and connected to the Fire Department’s Wide Area Network allowing Operational Captains to accurately assess staffing needs at secluded, under served beaches from anywhere on the network through a web browser.

Public Safety

The network allows Headquarters Captains to more effectively deploy resources in the field. For example, a quick check of a pocket beach via the webcamera from Headquarters can help identify that situation when a busload of children arrive at an unguarded pocket beach, so that a lifeguard can be dispatched as soon as possible. Also, ongoing incidents can be monitored remotely to ensure that adequate resources are dispatched to the scene.

Scientific Studies

The web cameras are mounted in fixed locations, and have precise presets, allowing the lifeguard service to create time-lapse visual data on coastal erosion, and storm drain emissions. This data will allow the County to gauge the effectiveness of beach management procedures and storm drain water diversion efforts. The County has received interest in this data from the US Army Corps of Engineers, The California Coastal Commission, The Scripps Institution and others. Click here for a sample Beach Erosion study (requires QuickTime 6.0).

Public Website

The general public can view images and other data from the network for use in planning a trip to the beach. Also, thanks to our program partners, the website also includes up to date, beach by beach, searchable information on facilities and amenities. We have combined this with news and announcements from lifeguard personnel on beach activities, safety issues, any beach closures and much, much more.

First Ever Automated Coastal Meteorological Sites in Los Angeles County

The program’s weather instruments will provide the first automated meteorological reporting sites along the coast of Los Angeles. The Lifeguard Service has received a great deal of interest in this data from the National Weather Service in Oxnard, as well as the County Fire Department’s own Forestry Division. Accurate weather information from the coast will aid in fire suppression tactics.

Everything Else

The Los Angeles County Coastal Monitoring Network is the first of its kind. As with any experimental program, it continues to evolve. For example, while testing the network's ability to capture environmental data, we captured the approximate start time and place of the January 6, 2003 Pacific Fire in Malibu that threatened hundreds of lives and millions of dollars in property, and that was the subject of many national news stories. In fact, images from the network were used to corroborate other evidence about the origins of the fire at a multi-agency Post Incident Analysis meeting on January 30, 2003. Click here to see a "mini-documentary" of the presentation of this data by Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief Paul A. Schuster (requires QuickTime 6.0).

The point here is simply that you can never fully anticipate all the benefits to a comprehensive new technology initiative. So keep sending us your ideas, and we'll keep doing our best to put them to work.

The following chart illustrates the various Inputs, Outputs and Outcomes of this innovative program (requires Flash).

 

Partners

Beaches and Harbors


USC Sea Grant



Weather and Surf Data Provided by

National Weather Service, Los Angeles / Oxnard


Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Coastal Data Information Program


The Coastal Monitoring Network is a proud member of the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observation System.

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This website was made possible in part by a grant from the Technology Opportunities Program, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, US Department of Commerce and a partnership with the USC Sea Grant Program and the County of Los Angeles Department of Beaches and Harbors.
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