Ann Arbor YMCA pioneers AI technology to prevent drownings and other pool safety issues

The Ann Arbor YMCA recently became the first YMCA Aquatics Center in the country to use artificial intelligence (AI) technology to aid lifeguards and YMCA employees in water safety and drowning prevention.

The technology, developed by Israeli tech company Lynxight, utilizes and integrates with existing CCTV cameras to "detect swimmers in distress or accidental pool entries," according to a press release from the Y. Lifeguards and YMCA employees can then be quickly alerted of exactly where an emergency is occurring and intervene accordingly.

James Highsmith, vice president of membership and marketing at the Y, says Y staff hope to provide guests with more peace of mind when visiting the aquatic center, both in terms of added safety measures and more interaction with pool staff. 

"Lynxight provides alerts three to four times a day, which gives lifeguards an opportunity to check on different areas, regardless if there is an emergency or not," Highsmith explains. "Additionally, if there is an emergency, lifeguard response times are improved using this system." 

Lifeguards and Y staff received extensive training on the software with Lynxight techs on site throughout January in order to best prepare staff for the launch at the beginning of February. Highsmith says that the month-long gap between training and the software going live allowed for adjustments to the software, and allowed the AI to learn the pool area better.

"The system is constantly receiving updates," Highsmith says. "It gives us heat mapping about which lap lanes are the most utilized, which ones are having the most alerts – like emergencies or overcrowding – which allows us to make decisions on where lifeguard chairs should be, and where lifeguards should be visiting more frequently." 

Highsmith also wants to assuage any worries guests may have about the use of AI data gathering in the center. He says that, due to "stringent data laws" both in the United States and in Israel, no personal data is collected by either the Y or Lynxight. 

"We are being very transparent," he says. "If a member wants to see what we see on the CCTV, we are willing to show them." 

Those interested in learning more about the software and how it's being used at the Y can reach out to James Highsmith at (734) 661-8049, or by email at

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.

Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor YMCA.
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