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How ‘Smart’ Beaches Are Preserving Ibiza’s Natural Environment

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The Balearic Island of Ibiza, Spain, is a popular holiday destination. Well-known for its retreats, sandy beaches, and lively nightlife.

However, Ibiza is also home to close to a thousand flora species, two National Parks and about 30 lizard species, 200 fish species and 70 shellfish and water animals, to name a few.

Off the coast, the 80,000-year-old seagrass beds have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999 and, for more than 7,000 years, pine forests have been closely associated with the island’s scenery.

It is understandable that local authorities want to protect the natural environment here and, with Ibiza Preservation reporting a decade of decline in the quality of Ibiza’s bathing waters, it’s time we use technology to help.

Overcrowding on the beach

Working with Ibiza Regional Council and Red.es, the joint venture Vodafone-Kapsch launched a sophisticated video surveillance system in June that can calculate occupancy levels at the island’s popular beaches.

Using IP cameras with 4G connectivity and sensors that can detect movement up to 100 meters away, local authorities, citizens and holiday makers can now get access to anonymous information about which areas are occupied and those that are free, in real time.

Able to control the number of people visiting beaches, local authorities will be able to better protect wildlife and the environment, while holiday makers and citizens will have a better experience, enjoying less packed beaches.

33 beaches are now part of the project, including Cala Sant Vicent, Benirràs, Platja d’en Bossa, Cala d’Hort and Cala Llonga.

Citizens and tourists can even find out if there is parking space near the beach, at what time the bus will pass through the stop and if the quality of the water is suitable for bathing.

Protecting the pine trees           

In the future, this technology can also be adapted to other environments, such as parks, squares, terraces, promenades, and outdoor events.

For example, the plan is to use four optronic cameras for early fire detection that will cover almost 80 per cent of Ibiza’s forest mass.

Able to intervene faster, local authorities will be able to prevent large fires on the island, helping protect Ibiza’s trees, landscape and inhabitants.

Saving the seabeds

Last week, Vodafone and Kapsch installed the second part of the project.

Using five marine buoys with sensors arranged at various beaches across the island, the Ibiza Regional Council and the rest of the authorities involved, will be able to measure water quality and detect and reduce the problems caused by the mass anchoring of boats.

This will help protect marine fauna and flora, in particular, the seabeds. As well as, providing information to citizens and tourists about the quality of the water for bathing.

With the information collected in real-time by the buoys, the council will be able to make more informed decisions about the maintenance of the marine ecosystem and the water quality across the island’s beaches.

Building a ‘smart’ island

Both initiatives are part of the ‘Ibiza, Smart and Sustainable Destination’ project with Red.es, an entity under the Ministry of Economy and Digital Transformation through the Secretary of State for Digitalisation and

 Artificial Intelligence.

Through Vodafone’s ‘Smart Cities’ platform and investment from the European Regional Development Fund, the aim is to transform Ibiza into a ‘smart’ island by connecting citizens, tourists and city resources through services and data that are analysed and reported to local authorities. Facilitating the efficient running and maintenance of the island.

Various innovations will be implemented as part of the project, enabling a range of people-friendly solutions that will make Ibiza more attractive, sustainable and safer for its people and for holiday makers.

Next up is 16 information displays at bus stops, the monitoring of nine public parking lots and the installation of 250 sensors to control the air quality.

Using technology, we can create a safer, greener and more resilient world for everyone.

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