Ann Arbor YMCA becomes first ‘Y’ in country to use artificial intelligence to boost water safety

Swimming pool lane line. (Flickr)

ANN ARBOR – The Ann Arbor YMCA, which serves Washtenaw and southern Livingston counties, has become the first Y in the country to use artificial intelligence in the monitoring of its aquatics center.

The AI technology was integrated to prevent drownings, assist in water safety and improve rescue response times.

According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of death in children ages 1-4. Additionally, roughly 4,000 deaths each year in the United States are a result of unintentional drownings.

Officials at the Y said the technology, developed by Lynxight, it is a proactive effort to improve the safety of those using its pool.

“We have integrated advanced AI with existing CCTV camera technology to deliver the next level of pool safety to swimming pools everywhere,” CEO of Lynxight Omer Bar-Ilan said in a statement. “The existing cameras are instantly elevated in their capabilities to see above and below the water to attain complete scene understanding.”

The technology uses the CCTV cameras at the Y to detect and analyze swimmers in the pools. Machine learning can determine whether the swimmers are in high risk areas, in distress or have entered the pool by accident.

Lifeguards are then alerted via a smartwatch which location of the pool to respond to and are sent real-time images of the incident.

“We’re extremely excited to bring this technology to our downtown Ann Arbor Y membership branch,” vice president of membership and marketing James Highsmith said in a release. “The tool is not meant to be, and never will be a replacement for human lifeguards, but the technology is a proactive effort by our organization to improve upon the aquatic experience at the Y. The Y has a commitment to continue to work towards making our water activities as safe as possible.”

All data gathered is encrypted, 100% anonymous and no personal details are collected by the Y or Lynxlight, according to a release.