Beach Safety ‘traffic lights’

Beach Safety ‘traffic lights’

Jackson Harrigan's 'traffic light' beach safety system may help prevent drownings

Posted on 13.05.2019

As Australia reels from a summer in which 53 people died in coastal drownings, a father-son duo hopes their traffic light-style surf warning signage system can help turn the tide on the worst coastal drowning figures in 15 years.

Jackson and Dean Harrigan have been travelling the east coast of Australia promoting their Ocean Live system, which uses red, amber and white lights to warn swimmers of the real-time dangers of rips, sand banks, sharks and UV.

“It’s essentially traffic lights at beaches,” project manager Dean Harrigan said.

“The fundamental difference between this device and a sign is that live data and information is fed from various websites, so the data is live.”

Key points:

  • Jackson Harrigan’s invention started out as a high-school project
  • The system uses a set of lights on beach signs to warn of real-time dangers
  • On-site trials of Mr Harrigan’s system are set to start in June

School project goes live

Ocean Live began as the brainchild of Jackson during his final years of high school in Sydney.

“I had to come up for a new invention for Design and Technology and Dad told me that I should do something for the community and something with passion,” he said.

A childhood spent swimming and surfing on Bondi Beach sparked the idea for a surf safety project.

“The community part was saving lives, and the beach was the part that I love and is my passion.”

The technology needed to be simple, effective and easily understood by tourists who might not be able to read English.

Jackson produced an early version of Ocean Live for his HSC in 2018, which used a “traffic light” system to warn of developing, present and dangerous beach conditions.

Coloured lights reflected the level of each danger and internationally recognised symbols were used for each hazard.

“The traffic lights system works effectively. I mean it’s recognised worldwide and it’s certainly something anyone in the world should be able to figure out what it means.”

ABC News




Have a story to tell or news to share?

Let us know by Submitting a News Story

Discover Queensland

Explore all of Queensland’s adventures.

Start Exploring

What's On



Kooralbyn Valley MTB 4hr Endurance

Kooralbyn Valley MTB 4hr Endurance 7 km loop
Read more



Government support for business and industry

Information about the range of support and services available and how best to access them
Read more



Enclosed Sea Guide and Instructor Assessment

A full day assessment for the Paddle Australia Enclosed Sea Guide or Instructor Award
Read more

Latest News

Aussie Ark recognised internationally

... for its significance in fire and drought recovery

Read more
Affordable Alternatives to Screen Time

That Keep Kids Happy and Engaged

Read more
20 Minute Neighbourhoods

People love the idea, so why isn’t it top of the agenda?

Read more

Become a member

QORF welcomes applications for new Community and Green Circle Members from organisations and individuals involved in the outdoors

Learn More
Tail Lights by Georgina Pratten