In a New Zealand first, artificial intelligence can now predict when the next "dumb drowning" will take place - the first warning in place for Sunday this weekend.

The technology was developed by Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) and would be used by social media character the Swim Reaper to try lower drowning rates.

At the end of last month, preventable drowning numbers had increased by about 20 per cent, with 72 deaths as of November 29 compared to 59 in 2018.

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The A.I. bot used 40 years of water safety data, along with weather forecasts, tides, locations, and even local access to alcohol to predict the "drowniest" days.

West coast beaches around Auckland, like Murirwai Beach (pictured), can be unpredictable. Photo / File
West coast beaches around Auckland, like Murirwai Beach (pictured), can be unpredictable. Photo / File

WSNZ chief executive Jonty Mills told the Herald the information enabled them to release timely, relevant warnings to youngsters.

"The Swim Reaper has already become world-famous and, more importantly, had a huge impact on preventable drownings in this country," he said.

"By using data, we hope the campaign will have an even greater one in future."

The Swim Reaper was developed by WSNZ in 2016 in partnership with ACC, in a bid to change bad water habits of young Kiwi males aged 16 to 34.

Despite only making up 14 per cent of the population, the age-group had historically accounted for a higher preventable drowning death each year.

A preventable death was one where water safety intervention could have had an influence and helped prevent the incident.

Through dark humour, the Swim Reaper ironically pointed out deadly consequences of bad decisions in and around the water to his 450,000 followers on Instagram.

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Preventable drownings were worst across Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato, with an eagle-eye to be kept on these regions.

Water Safety New Zealand CEO Jonty Mills. Photo / Hagen Hopkins
Water Safety New Zealand CEO Jonty Mills. Photo / Hagen Hopkins

The campaign would run through right across the busy summer period, from now right through into February.

Mills hoped the data and insights provided by the A.I. bot would allow WSNZ to more accurately target water safety messages.

Preventable drowning numbers had increased this past year, however, last year was the second-lowest on record.

Regardless, one preventable drowning was one too many, Mills said.

"There are two reasons people drown, predominantly, they don't have the skills to get themselves out of trouble but in most cases, people make bad decisions.

"It's knowing your own limits, having knowledge and awareness and making good decisions around the water.

"Stop and think about it and if in doubt, don't go in."