The County of Los AngelesFire
Department, Lifeguard Division,
in partnership with the County of Los
AngelesDepartment 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.
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.
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
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
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
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).