Transforming Beach Safety: From Static Signs to Interactive Digital Kiosks

The project

We developed an interactive digital kiosk for beach visitors to enhance beach safety. The idea came from noticing that static signs weren't enough to inform beachgoers about hazards. We kicked off the project with a workshop to understand the needs and behaviours of beach visitors.

The project, 'Smart Blackspot Beaches,' is currently live and active, a testament to its successful implementation. I'm delighted to share that the interactive water safety sign, the first of its kind in the country, is now operational at the Lorne Visitor Centre. This significant milestone marks a leap forward in beach safety, fostering visitor engagement and increasing safety awareness. This is another one of my favourite projects.


We hypothesised that an engaging, interactive platform would make safety information more memorable and accessible. Our research through workshops confirmed this, showing frustration with static signs and a preference for mobile access. We designed a user-friendly interface for the kiosk, ensuring it was intuitive with a minimal learning curve. We also included QR codes for easy access on personal devices.

The kiosk provides live updates on weather and beach conditions, hazard warnings, patrol times, emergency contacts, and educational content about marine life and environmental impact. We also designed desktop and mobile versions to cater to different user needs.

One challenge we faced was ensuring the content was concise yet comprehensive, given the limited interaction time at the kiosk. Our solution focused on empathy in design—truly understanding and addressing user needs led to a more impactful and engaging result. Our approach evolved from digitising static signs to creating a dynamic platform significantly improving beach safety awareness.

Transforming Beach Safety: From Static Signs to Interactive Digital Kiosks

  • Recognising the Limitations and peer-reviewed literature of Static Safety Signs: Through workshops, it became evident that beachgoers needed to engage more with static safety signs, leading to a lack of awareness about potential hazards. Despite the signs providing sufficient information based on risk assessments, their static nature often failed to capture attention or encourage interaction. This highlighted the need for a more appealing and engaging solution to communicate risks and effectively ensure beach visitors' safety.

  • Engaging Stakeholders to Understand Visitor Needs: We initiated the project with a comprehensive workshop, bringing together key stakeholders, including beach safety experts. Through this workshop, we aimed to delve into beachgoers' specific needs and behaviours. Participants shared their experiences and frustrations, revealing a strong desire for real-time, location-specific safety information. This collaborative approach helped us understand the gaps in safety communication and set the foundation for our project.

  • Hypothesising an Innovative Safety Solution: Based on the insights gathered, we hypothesised that an interactive digital platform would significantly improve user engagement and safety awareness. The data we synthesised from the workshop supported this hypothesis, indicating a growing trend among beach visitors using mobile devices to access information. We envisioned a solution that provided real-time updates and engaged users through interactive elements, making safety information more memorable and actionable.

  • Designing an Intuitive User Experience: Designing the user interface was critical, starting with low-fidelity drawings and progressing to high-fidelity interactive Figma prototypes. We focused on creating an intuitive, user-friendly experience with a minimal learning curve. The kiosk's interface was self-explanatory, ensuring users could easily navigate and access information. We integrated QR codes to enhance convenience, allowing users to quickly transfer information to their devices. This design approach aimed to make safety information readily accessible, both on-site and on-the-go.

  • Enhancing Accessibility with Multilingual Support: To ensure the kiosk was accessible to a diverse range of beach visitors, we incorporated multilingual support, including the option to select Chinese. This was particularly important given the significant number of Chinese-speaking visitors in the area. By providing safety information in multiple languages, we aimed to enhance understanding and ensure that all visitors could easily access critical safety information.

  • Delivering Relevant and Real-Time Safety Information: The kiosk's content strategy was central to its effectiveness. We included live updates on weather and beach conditions, real-time hazard warnings, and information about patrol times and emergency contacts. Additionally, we provided educational content on marine life, the environmental impact of beach activities, and local community features. We developed desktop and mobile versions to cater to different user needs, ensuring a consistent and comprehensive user experience across all platforms.

  • Enhancing Safety Awareness Through Empathy-Driven Design: This project underscored the importance of empathy in design. By deeply understanding and addressing the needs of beach visitors, we aimed to create a solution to improve safety awareness and engagement. The transition from static signs to an interactive digital platform demonstrated the potential value of user-centred design. Our empathy-driven approach ensured that the final solution was informative, intuitive, and user-friendly, aiming to lead to a safer beach experience for all visitors.

Key Takeaways: Effective Design and Adaptability in Digital Solutions

  • Balancing Information Density: A significant challenge we faced was ensuring that the kiosk provided comprehensive safety information without overwhelming users. Early versions of the kiosk were content-heavy. Our solution involved breaking down information into smaller, digestible chunks and using interactive elements to keep users engaged while delivering essential safety information. This approach demonstrated that less can sometimes be more in user interface design.

  • Integrating Real-Time Data: Implementing real-time updates for weather and beach conditions was technically challenging and required robust backend support. Initial attempts faced delays and inaccuracies in data transmission, which could potentially mislead users. We addressed this by improving our data integration processes and ensuring a more reliable and responsive system. Our solution involved thoroughly testing and validating real-time data systems before deployment, resulting in accurate and timely information for users.

  • Enhancing Mobile Accessibility: While the kiosk interface was well-received, the mobile version initially faced usability issues due to varying screen sizes and resolutions. We identified difficulties in usability testing navigating the mobile interface, which affected their overall experience. By conducting extensive mobile usability tests and optimising the design for different devices, we enhanced mobile accessibility and ensured a consistent experience across all platforms. This underscored the need for rigorous testing across multiple devices in any digital project.

  • Lessons in Empathy-Driven Design: One of the most profound lessons was the impact of empathy-driven design. By deeply understanding and addressing the needs and behaviours of beach visitors, we created a solution that was both effective and engaging. This approach significantly enhanced safety awareness.

  • Early Stakeholder Involvement for Efficient Development: Our solution involved involving key stakeholders and experts early in the design process, which provided actionable insights and reduced the number of iterations needed. Additionally, we established a robust feedback framework from the beginning to streamline the feedback loop and accelerate the refinement process. These strategies ensured a more user-centric and efficient development process.

Final Reflections

We adapted to various constraints, such as limited interaction time and the need for concise content delivery. Our solution involved maintaining flexibility and pivoting strategies based on real-world limitations. By staying adaptable, we overcame obstacles and delivered a successful project.

In conclusion, this project transformed beach safety through an innovative digital solution and demonstrated the effectiveness of user-centred design, efficient content management, and seamless integration of real-time data.

Author: Mugs (Mugunthan Balakrishnan)

2016 - 2024 Mugs Studio Pty Ltd. All right reserved

2016 - 2024 Mugs Studio Pty Ltd.

2016 - 2024 Mugs Studio Pty Ltd.