Wollongong City Council has embraced smartphone technology in its bid to curb the number of people swimming at unpatrolled beaches this summer.
In what is believed to be an Australian-first, signs at 10 unpatrolled beaches have been equipped with QR (quick response) codes that allow visitors to use their smartphones to read up-to-date information about potential hazards for swimmers and surfers.
Beachgoers can scan the code using a QR reader app, available free from app stores, and are then automatically directed to hazard information about that beach from Surf Life Saving Australia's Beach Safe website.
Visitors will also be told where the closest patrolled beach is and how to get there.
The council's beach services co-ordinator Jason Foye confirmed QR codes had been installed at several beaches including Little Austinmer, McCauleys, Coniston, Sharkeys, MM, Fishos (behind Hill 60), Perkins, East Corrimal, Puckeys and Towradgi (near the surf leisure resort).
Mr Foye said information for each beach, updated daily in line with the website data, was available in 34 languages.
People will also be able to access fact sheets on general beach safety in 18 languages.
"This is another initiative we have implemented to increase people's awareness of hazards at some of our beaches," Mr Foye said.
"Surf lifesavers and council lifeguards will also conduct roving patrols along unpatrolled beaches and talk to people on those beaches as part of our education program."
Installing QR codes on beach signs was among a series of recommendations to come out of a recent joint SLS/council audit of the risks at unpatrolled beaches in Wollongong.