Category: Grand Prix
Agency: ROMEO Digital
Client: Surf Life Saving Queensland


In 2017, 50 people drowned on Australian beaches. All deaths occurred outside of patrolled areas. Beachgoers don’t understand, don’t see or can’t read Surf Life Saving’s beach reports — migrants and tourists account for over a third of drownings in Australia.

Surf Life Saving Queensland presented an open brief to ROMEO Digital. Their objective? Get people to swim between the red-and-yellow flags where lifesavers and lifeguards can keep them safe.


Surf Life Saving Australia is striving for zero preventable deaths in Australian waters, with a 50% reduction by 2020.


Research showed that 1.2 million Australians consider their device to be the top beach essential — ahead of sun protection. With mobile app downloads diminishing in the last few years, it is clear that people don’t want another app of limited use cluttering their phone.

The idea of using a technology that is ubiquitous and ‘essential’ was most appealing. The challenge was developing the tech to deliver the idea.

Leveraging the ubiquity of mobile phones on the beach, ROMEO Digital decided to use the technology to change behaviour and get people between the red-and-yellow flags.

Execution and Delivery

ROMEO Digital developed Life-Fi: a patented technology platform that solves a universal beach safety challenge — ensuring people gravitate to patrolled areas, where they can swim safely, and educating them about current beach conditions in real time through a mobile phone experience, in their own language.

Leveraging research insights showing that 40% of travellers named lack of internet access as their biggest annoyance, Li-Fi generates a wireless network that only works between the flags.

Life-Fi connects people’s mobiles to an interface that automatically detects their language setting. Beachgoers receive real-time live surf patrol instructions, real-time updates in beach conditions and messages from lifeguards and lifesavers in their own language. The agency designed prevention messages with a universal visual approach. In a matter of seconds, people are informed of what to do to stay safe.


  • Reached nearly 1 million people Australia-wide, and millions more across China and Korea, through China’s national online news service,
  • 44 stations syndicated Australian news reports
  • Life-Fi was trialed in April 2018, launched on 16 November 2018, and rolled out to 10 tourism hotspots in Queensland (Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Green Island Cairns), with a further four units able to move along the coast as needed. A patent application was accepted in late 2018.