FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The Hellen P. Brown Natatorium is arguably one of the greatest recreational assets Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) has in its possession.
The blue waters of the 43,000-square-foot facility strive to “promote lifetime fitness through aquatic education to the diverse population of Fort Wayne Community Schools and the community.”
And a big part of providing that fitness is ensuring proper safety when swimming.
In the past, the district employed a camera system called Poseidon.
The Poseidon system uses computer vision technology to provide constant surveillance of the pool and monitor the trajectories of swimmers. This sophisticated device analyzes activity in the pool captured by a network of cameras mounted both above and below the surface of the water. The system alerts staff via a beeper and monitor when a swimmer is motionless below the surface of the water for up to 10 seconds.From the FWCS website
According to the district’s website, the system was installed in 2001, and the Natatorium was the second school pool in the world to have state-of-the-art technology.
However, even if the technology was cutting-edge in 2001, new developments have unlocked better measures that could allow the district to operate with fewer lifeguards.
Enter the new Ellis Aquatic Vigilance System (EAVS), which features new cameras and AI models to determine if someone is drowning.
“We are able to watch a monitor and see a birds-eye view of the pool which is amazing,” said Liz Caywood, manager of the Hellen P. Brown Natatorium. “With guards you have glare, you have limited visibility, we have guards we will continue to have guards, In this way, we don’t need to have as many guards on deck.”
Replacing lifeguards is another key piece of the system.
The district wants the best in safety for its swimmers, but if it can’t staff enough lifeguards, no one can swim.
“It’s so vital, honestly we have had to not serve all the customers we wanted to serve last year,” Caywood said. “Bringing in this EAVS system opens up a world of possibilities for us getting back to what we know.”
The FWCS school board approved the purchase and installation of the new system at Monday’s school board meeting.
Installation should begin in August, and it will cost the district $253,000 over the next five years.