At SwimEye headquarters, we get this question a lot. “Does SwimEye use Wi-Fi for swimming pool computer vision systems.” And “can SwimEye be used on our mobile devices?” Sound great, right? However, the short answer is no, SwimEye is not ‘mobile’. At SwimEye, we believe mobile and Wi-Fi is an unnecessary security and data protection weakness, that we are not willing to risk.
Everything is going mobile and wireless these days. We are all using convenient, hand-held devices that operate almost anywhere. At SwimEye, we are seeing our competitors using mobile devices and Wi-Fi network connections for swimming pool computer vision systems.
However, we believe that this is a risk to data security that we are not willing to take just yet.
Privacy and data protection for swimming pool computer vision systems
What we have found at SwimEye is that Wi-Fi devices have their weaknesses. Specifically, airborne network signals. Within minutes, a sophisticated hacker could be inside a Wi-Fi-based system and freely accessing video of swimming pool users (for example).
By relying upon a desktop computer and radio alarm transmission, SwimEye is fortified and protected from the risk of unauthorised access via wireless signals or software on a mobile device. SwimEye is an “offline” operating system if you would like to think of it this way.
This means that all video streaming of swimmers and all recorded footage of potential drowning incidents are entirely isolated from internet access. As a result, data and privacy protection are very high.
Secure remote access
However, as many of you know, internet access is required for service and maintenance of the SwimEye drowning detection system. From our headquarters, we can log in to each SwimEye system (operating anywhere throughout the world) and we can provide remote support, service, maintenance and software upgrades. We have found that 95% of support and service matters can be remotely resolved.
For remote access, SwimEye specifically uses a hard-wired, VPN protected network connection. We like to this of this as a private tunnel to each customer, with heavy but invisible security doors at each end.
With the secure tunnel, we provide customers with service and maintenance directly from our headquarters in Norway. This approach has significantly reduced the risk of unauthorised access to SwimEye data and images.
Focus on the pool, not the device
Another aspect of working with mobile devices is the issue of “screen time”. We are hearing more and more about the risk of distraction from mobile devices.
Specifically, in the leisure industry, experts are advising parents to put down the mobile device and physically “just watch” their children when visiting a swimming pool. You can read some related content here:
- Children at risk of drowning because ‘careless’ parents are fixated on their phones, German officials say
- Device addiction: Pool signs warn parents to watch kids, not phones
- Parents urged to focus on children, not phones, at swimming pool
This is an issue that is amplified for lifeguards, and a workplace issue for pool owners and managers.
We see that when people are working with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, it can be very challenging to hold a user within an application or a specific environment. For example, it would be very easy to navigate out from the drowning alarm app and into the web browser to surf the internet, or become transfixed by a mobile game.
This is further amplified when asking staff to utilise their own personal mobile device when supervising a swimming pool.
Notifications, messages and phone calls are very tempting distractions for even the most disciplined smartphone user. For pool lifeguards, this is a distraction that that most pool managers will not take. Any small moment of distraction can lead to serious or fatal consequences.
We deliberately exclude the mobile device
By removing the temptation of a mobile device from the lifeguard’s workplace environment, lifeguards can provide dedicated focus to swimmers and pool users. For many pool owners and managers, this is a non-negotiable rule for all lifeguards. Phone and devices are just not allowed during lifeguarding shifts.
For SwimEye, it has been a deliberate decision. We have excluded the mobile device, Wi-Fi and mobile networks to ensure that our video data is safe and by doing so, our lifeguards can remain focused on the pool and not the device.
If you would like to discuss more about mobile devices and WiFi in the pool environment, please contact SwimEye today.