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Summer of software on Spanish beaches as app warns of Covid closures

To help would-be beachgoers avoid frustration, Barcelona’s authorities have created an app that warns users which beaches have reached their capacity due to restrictions imposed as result of coronavirus.  

For the past three weekends, police have cordoned off some of Barcelona’s six beaches as mostly locals flocked to the seaside to celebrate the end of lockdown. 

Barcelona council installed cameras and video sensors after scenes of massive use of the city’s central Barceloneta beach drew criticism with Spain still under lockdown in May. Now beaches are allowed to reach 80 per cent of capacity, with bathers asked to respect social distancing of two metres.

Barcelona city hall will now connect the sensors it has installed to measure numbers of bathers to an app offering real-time information.  

The app uses a traffic light system, with green indicating that a beach is largely empty and red that it is full. Users will be recommended to try elsewhere in Barcelona or nearby beaches also participating in the scheme, such as Castelldefels.  

“This way everyone can plan their trip to the coast,” said Alba Barrera, head of beaches in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area.    

“We ask people to use the showers individually and recommend they use footwear on the walkways and shower platforms.”   

Elsewhere in Spain, sun-seekers have been turned away from other beaches due to capacity being reached, notably in the country’s southernmost Cádiz province. Here, drones are being used to capture images from the area’s long stretches of sand.  

Benidorm has roped off areas on its large beach and has created a pre-booking system, but so far not enough tourists have reached the resort to make it necessary.  

To help prevent unwanted surprises once at the beach of choice, a group of Spanish scientists have launched an app offering information on the presence of jellyfish. MedusApp uses the wiki method of relying on users to post photos of jellyfish or report on tentacle-free conditions, data which will be immediately added to the app’s coastal map.  

“It’s based on the idea of citizen science,” said Ramón Palacios, one of the app’s developers.  

“We want users to be the eyes of scientists where we cannot reach.”

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