Hougang Swimming Complex (Source: SSC LetsPlay).

Drowning detection system to be installed in 11 public pools by Apr 2020

The government will install a drowning detection system, which alerted a lifeguard early after a man became unconscious while swimming, in 11 public pools in Singapore by April 2020.

Speaking during Committee of Supply debate on Friday (8 March), the Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu stated that  Sport Singapore (SportSG) will progressively implement the computer vision drowning detection system (CVDDS) to boost safety at public swimming complexes across Singapore.

She told members of Parliament that the system uses a network of overhead infrared cameras, enabling early detection of possible drowning.

According to the minister, the CVDDS works on a detection response time of 15 seconds, noting that this will allow lifeguards to spot distressed swimmers more quickly.

The system will be installed at pools in Bukit Batok, Jurong West and Our Tampines Hub this year. While, another seven will follow by April 2020.

The government held a year-long trial at Hougang Swimming Complex and stated that it was successful, saying that the system was assessed to have complied with international standards and had a low false-alarm rate.

A 64 year-old man sunk to the pool floor in an unconscious state last August and the system detected the move. A lifeguard immediately rescued him from the pool, and successfully resuscitated him.

The ministry stressed that CVDDS is not meant as a substitute for every swimmer taking precautions at public pools. However, it adds a layer of safeguard.

The latest incident of drowning took place in Waterfront Gold condominium in Bedok Reservoir Road last December where a 12-year-old boy became the victim.

The boy was wrestling with his twin brother by the poolside and the older boy slipped and fell into the deep end. He was then taken unconscious to Changi General Hospital, where he passed away from his injuries.

KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital released a report in 2016, which showed that the number of near-drowning cases involving children had increased greatly from 2011 to 2015.

Within the reported five-year period, there were 104 cases of near-drowning incidents and 10 deaths, which was a significant increase from the previous five-year period, where five cases of near-drowning and 12 deaths were reported.

The report stated that most of the cases involved children aged between one and six, with all the reported deaths having occurred in private swimming pools.