Dublin Smart Ring Buoys challenge underway

In Dublin City Council alone, around 15 ring buoys go missing or are stolen every week

19 February 2021

Four companies are piloting a range of innovative solutions to supply low-cost, retro-fit, technology solutions to alert, monitor and report on when ring buoys go missing or are tampered with.

This is part of an innovation challenge that was issued in 2020 to find smarter solutions to address the challenge of ‘missing’ ring buoys. The solutions aim to monitor in real time when life buoys are tampered with or taken. Apart from the potential to save lives, other benefits include reducing the number of ring buoys that go missing and decreasing the time taken to replace them.

In Dublin City Council alone, around 15 ring buoys go missing or are stolen every week. The need to replace nearly 600 ring buoys each year costs in excess of €20,000 and potentially endangers lives.

“This is a great example of collaboration across the 4 Dublin Local authorities and Water Safety Ireland,” said Owen Keegan, chief executive, Dublin City Council. “It is also the first time we have used a procurement approach like this to pilot an innovative technology solution before we buy. I look forward to seeing the results and implementing solutions that will improve water safety across Dublin and Ireland’s local authorities.”

Peter Keating, water safety development officer at Dún Laoghaire Rathdown (DLR) County Council, said: “Having real-time notification on lifesaving equipment will make a significant difference in the response times of DLR staff to missing life-saving equipment.  Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council have 52 ring buoys along our coast and every ring buoy has the potential to save a life but only if it is present.  With the increased number of visitors to our beaches there is more emphasis on water safety and having lifesaving equipment in place.  Traditionally a ring buoy inspection on all locations is carried out every two weeks and can take up most of the day, with this technology the inspection time is greatly reduced and can be spent on more beneficial tasks.”

This pilot project is being managed through an innovative procurement two-phase multi-party framework agreement. It is the first time such a framework is being used in Ireland and has been supported through EAFIP, a European programme for innovation procurement. Procurement specialists in the Netherlands (Corvers) and A&L Goodbody have advised on the process. 

Phase One, the nine-month trial phase, began in late 2020. All companies whose solutions are deemed successful at the end of Phase One will automatically proceed to Phase Two. There are 23 local authorities listed on the framework, and in Phase Two, they can draw down on the successful solutions through a mini-competition and buy them without going out to tender themselves. This way, the solutions can be scaled up and deployed nationally as individual local authorities see fit.

“This is one of the most innovative projects in terms of drowning prevention that Water Safety has ever been involved in,” said John Leech, CEO, Water Safety Ireland. “I am confident that it will help save lives when the successful systems are rolled out around the country. A stolen ringbuoy can mean a stolen life, when these innovative systems are functioning, they will have a positive impact on the interference and theft of this essential Public Rescue Equipment.”

TechCentral Reporters

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