Ring Buoy Theft

Ring Buoys are essential to saving lives on the water. Dublin City Council’s Water Safety Officer and Water Safety Ireland are jointly responsible for the monitoring and maintenance of the ring buoys in Dublin City. Unfortunately, approximately 15 of these ring buoys go missing/are stolen every week. The need to replace approximately 600 ring buoys each year costs Dublin City Council in excess of €20,000 and potentially endangers lives.

Reducing Ring Buoy Theft with IoT

This problem exists across all 31 local authorities’ areas in Ireland, 18 of which manage coastal water safety and all of which manage inland water safety. Across Ireland, hundreds of life buoys go missing every week, putting people’s lives at risk.

Project Objectives

The operations are currently being carried out through the use of pen and paper charts, filled in through physical rotated site visits. These periodic site visits have been the sole information provider for whether the approximate 150 life rings are present and in working condition. Or, if they have been tampered with and or missing creating a hazard to water safety.

Recognising that new technologies such as Low Powered Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) and Internet of Things (IoT) have emerged in recent years, Dublin City Council (DCC) and Water Safety Ireland are exploring the use of emerging low-cost technologies to address ring buoy theft and enhance monitoring systems.

Solutions may incorporate low-cost, LPWAN sensors, alarm systems, and associated solutions to provide information on damaged or stolen ring- buoys in real time. They also must incorporate a mobile-responsive, map-based platform to be used by water safety officers to identify which ring buoys are missing.

The project aims to:

  1. Reduce the number of ring buoys that are stolen/removed.
  2. Reduce the length of time they are missing.
  3. Reduce the number of manual checks of ring buoys.

Dublin City Council was award €15,000 from DPER’s Public Service Innovation Fund to help address this challenge through innovative solutions.

Project Activities

In December 2019, Dublin City Council issued a Prior Information Notice (PIN) to understand what innovative solutions were available to better manage the ring buoys in Dublin and across Ireland. Based on the feedback from the market consultation Dublin City Council has now issued a Tender Notice to establish a Framework Agreement.

As this problem is not unique to Dublin, Dublin City Council and Water Safety Ireland are trialling a new two-phased procurement approach which will enable local authorities across Ireland to procure solutions trialled through this project without being required to repeat the trial phase.

Phase 1: Testing – the first phase contract will be dedicated to the piloting of different solutions. At the end of the phase 1 the pilots will be evaluated.
Phase 2: Deployment – the solutions which would be evaluated as successful will be deployed by means of a phase 2 contract.

Project Outcomes

  • Reducing the amount of stolen ring buoys
  • Create a more efficient monitoring system by reducing the amount of time ring buoys are missing
  • Reduce costs to Local Authorities and Water Safety Ireland for replacing stolen life buoys
  • This is the first time this two-phased procurement process have ever been used in Ireland – if successful it can provide a new innovation procurement model for Local Authorities across Ireland. Any local authority in Ireland, who chooses to be listed on the tender docs, can buy the successful solutions after testing is complete without going through their own procurement process

Find more information here:

Ring Buoy – Prior Information Notice

Ring Buoy – Request for Proposals

Irish Times: Stolen life-saving ring buoys see council turn to Internet of Things