I have had some very interesting conversations over the last month or so with quite a few individuals about how we make use of technology to support lifeguards in swimming pools.
The majority was very positive, but some of it was quite surprising, raised by uninformed thinking from a few individuals. less understanding of the progress and the pace of change..
Some not fully understanding “where we actually are with technology and how we got here”
So I thought I should put fingers to keyboard (not pen to paper)!
At this stage in the UK with progress on the introduction of Drowning Prevention and Detection Technology we have just moving from the “Innovators” stage into the “Early Adopters” phase of establishment.
Innovators (2.5%) – Innovators are the first individuals to adopt an innovation. Innovators are willing to take risks, youngest in age, have the highest social class, have great financial lucidity, very social and have closest contact to scientific sources and interaction with other innovators. Risk tolerance has them adopting technologies which may ultimately fail. Financial resources help absorb these failures.
Early Adopters (13.5%) – This is the second fastest category of individuals who adopt an innovation. These individuals have the highest degree of opinion leadership among the other adopter categories. Early Adopters are typically younger in age, have a higher social status, have more financial lucidity, advanced education, and are more socially forward than late adopters. More discrete in adoption choices than innovators. Realise judicious choice of adoption will help them maintain central communication position
For companies like Poolview Ltd and their Innovater/Early Adopter partners this can prove to be a very trying time as well as exciting.
When I reflect upon how we got here and really take stock and look at the numbers, the realisation really does hit me that we are forging and developing a new frontier.
As an innovator in my days as a leisure manager I was very blessed with having an understanding and supportive Director. I didn’t realise it until quite a few years later, I just presumed that everyone was in the same boat as me!
Roll forward quite a few years as I dipped my toes in the private sector and actually trying to “sell” technology - I very quickly realised that finding “Innovaters” was very difficult and that’s when the penny dropped that not everyone thought the same way as me.
So when we started Poolview Ltd just six short years ago, we formed a very tentative partnership with the then called DC Leisure. Like any partnership it took time to gain mutual trust, grow and develop.
We both wanted to "add layers of protection" to existing safety arrangements for swimmers and lifeguards alike. Figuring out together, how best to achieve this and in what configuration was the challenge.
This we did in a very organic way. Year one - 3 installations, Year two 7 installations, Year three - 15 installations, right up until today with the now called "Places Leisure" where we have installed or are installing just short of 70 systems in their swimming pools.
Places Leisure during this growth became much cherished “Sneezers” (a Sneezer is someone who spreads an idea) and installations in other private sector companies such as Everyone Active and Serco etc. followed.
Throughout this entire period we stopped “selling” product and rather concentrated on advising and educating the industry as to the benefits of ALL types and makes of technology for lifeguards, both wearable and optical.
I very strongly believed that we were at a tipping point within the industry and that our mission was to challenge, shape, mould and change the way in which we lifeguard pools in the UK today.
Engagement with many key players in the field, from the RLSS to Sport England, from the HSE to CIMSPA was vital, either face to face or round the back door!
In the eyes of the public - computer detection has been around for some time with Poseidon probably being the most widely known over that last two decades - but it always seemed to be a “nice to have, but not an essential" luxury!
We again were very lucky to have an incredibly supporting and accommodating partner in the guise of Places Leisure who kindly gave us permission in the summer of 2016 to start testing the software in the background with our Norwegian partners SwimEye.
I had a very focussed view on how I wanted the software developed for use in the UK market and thankfully I was fully supported by my fellow Directors, SwimEye and importantly Places Leisure - this integration is now referred to as “Blended Lifeguarding”.
We finally launched Poolview Plus+ on January 4th 2018 in Graves Health and Sports Centre and to say it has been an interesting eight months since, is the understatement of the century!
We feel privileged to now have a joint vision for what we are trying to achieve with both Places Leisure and most recently Everyone Active. Support from GLL, Freedom, Serco, David Lloyd and Parkwood to name a few has also been both constructive and integral.
However, what we should not forget nor lose sight of is that for us and many others this is just the start of a journey. The use of technology in swimming pools has been around for 20 plus years with little real advancement nor adoption until recently.
We are “barely out of nappies!”
The pace of our software development since January has been phenomenal with rapid advances every couple of months.
Poolview Ltd is very committed to the use of technology in swimming pools, but not for the sake of technology. The Lifeguard is at the forefront of our minds with any change or improvement we make.
"We can teach lifeguards great detection skills, efficient emergency action plans, practical rescue techniques and high quality CPR. What we can’t teach them is how to be vigilant for long periods in low stimulation environments" (Gary Johnson - Pool Super Vision).
The industry needs developing technology such as Poolview Plus+. We can’t rescue them, if we don’t see them.
We didn’t just waken up in July 1969 and man had suddenly landed on the moon. It took a decade of intensive effort, development and training to get there.
With technology in pools, we have orbited the moon, but we haven’t landed yet!