Eye-tracking Research to Improve Public Swimming Pool Lifeguard Deployment for Drowning Prevention

Location: Port Melbourne, VIC

Duration: 5 months

Keywords: Eye-tracking, supervision, scanning techniques

Please note: This research internship is with a collaborative partner of Swinburne University, and will be under the academic mentorship of A/Professor Jordy Kaufman. As such it is only open to students currently enrolled at Swinburne University. Any applicants from other universities will automatically be deemed ineligible for this project.

Project Background

Public swimming pools play an important role in Australian society, with millions of people visiting aquatic facilities each year.  Lifeguards play a key role in ensuring the safety of patrons at public swimming pools. A critical function of the lifeguard is scanning and surveillance of the water to detect victims in distress and ultimately prevent drowning. However, empirical evidence for the ideal ratio of pool lifeguards to persons in the water in public swimming pools to maximise safety is lacking.

The aim of the proposed research is to determine the number of persons a lifeguard can visually scan across a swimming pool within a timeframe to detect a potential drowning victim and prevent death or neurological damage. This evidence will be used to provide recommendations for the aquatic industry

Research to be Conducted

Specific aims of the research are to determine:

  1. The visual search patterns of pool lifeguards including the number of persons a lifeguard can see in a visual scan of a public swimming pool.
  2. The visual search patterns of pool lifeguards across time periods identified as key in the drowning process (i.e. 10 seconds, 30 seconds and 3 minutes).
  3. To compare the perceived versus actual number of persons scanned in a public swimming pool by lifeguards.
  4. To determine the influence of the external environment (e.g. glare, temperature, pool design features) on the number of persons a lifeguard can see in a visual scan of a public swimming pool across different time periods.

Computer-based eye-tracking capabilities at a laboratory and in-situ will be utilised to determine the above aims.

The proposed target sample will include both male and female pool lifeguards in Victoria.

Measures will include a range of tailored eye-tracking data including gaze order, and gaze trail, using a head mounted eye-tracker system. A calibration task (unique to each participant and facilitated by a study assistant) will be undertaken by each participant prior to commencing the testing procedure. Participants will then be presented with context-specific imagery (i.e. videos of scenarios with people in a public pool).

The study will include a questionnaire of pool lifeguards, including demographic information and self-reported (perception) of the number of people scanned. Surveys will be collected after the participants have completed the eye-tracking study.

Skills Required

For this project, we are looking for PhD students with:

  • An understanding of eye tracking technology methodologies and applications.
  • Demonstrated experience in data analysis, evaluation and evidence based research methods.
  • Well-developed interpersonal skills, including an ability to provide effective and appropriate advice and information to a variety of people and to use discretion with confidential information.
  • Evidence of effective written and communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to work and solve problems independently while at the same time working within a team environment.
  • Computer literacy, including experience with MS word and MS Excel.
  • Experience with SPSS or other statistical packages.

Knowledge of water safety and lifesaving is also desirable

Expected Outcomes

The aim of the proposed research is to determine the number of persons a lifeguard can visually scan across a swimming pool within a timeframe to detect a potential drowning victim and prevent death or neurological damage. This evidence will be used to provide recommendations for the aquatic industry. It is anticipated that a report will be prepared in conjunction with Life Saving Victoria in the form of a manuscript for publication in a peer reviewed journal.

Additional Details

The intern will receive $3,000 per month of the internship, usually in the form of stipend payments.

It is expected that the intern will primarily undertake this research project during regular business hours, spending at least 50% (this % is negotiable) of their time on-site with the industry partner. The intern will be expected to maintain contact with their academic mentor throughout the internship either through face-to-face or phone meetings as appropriate.

The intern and their academic mentor will have the opportunity to negotiate the project’s scope, milestones and timeline during the project planning stage.

To participate in the APR.Intern program, all applicants must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Be a PhD student currently enrolled at an Australian University.
  • PhD candidature must be confirmed.
  • Applicants must have the written approval of their Principal Supervisor to undertake the internship. This approval must be submitted at the time of application.
  • Internships are also subject to any requirements stipulated by the student’s and the academic mentor’s university.
Applications Close

3 May 2018

Reference

INT – 0395