The cameras started as an experiment back in 2005. Just wanted to see how to set up the cameras and whether people would find them without advertising their presence.
I like living on the beach and having a great view. I like sharing that view with people so they can see how nice it is. I also have a bit of an 'eco' agenda because lots of people (especially surfers and fishermen) travel miles to the beach (between 10-30 miles typically) just to see if the weather is suitable for what they do. The camera saves them a trip and therefore reduces fuel consumption etc.
The camera was set up in 2005 when I worked at an office inland. I set up the camera so I could check if it was worth running away from the office to go and play on the beach.
The cam has never been advertised and has spread by word of mouth (or Internet searches). We know who uses the camera only because we collect anonymous usage statistics and people send the camera emails (it gets about 200 Christmas cards each year).
We get about 400,000 hits a month. About 30% are local, 30% other UK and 30% overseas. Locals are surfers, sailors, anglers, professional fishermen, and people who like to check the weather before taking their dog for a walk on the beach. Internationally it is mostly people who used to live here and/or have family here.
There are 2 cameras (currently Logitech C920s with glass Zeiss optics). Each one sends images to its own dedicated computer in Tynemouth every 2 minutes. These computers share an internet connection which sends the images to our dedicated servers in London (or somewhere similar, the servers move around sometimes, but are always close to a fast Internet 'pipe'). When you request an image it comes from those servers.
We could do lots of flashy stuff on the site, but mostly out users just want to see the beach. Over a third of our users access the site from mobile phones. Because of this we keep the site simple so it is as small and quick to download as possible.
Currently we provide static images which are updated every 2 minutes. This is a good compromise between quality of service and cost.
We can do a live feed, but we will not unless enough people ask and are prepared to pay the costs. It would be a pay-per-view service in addition to our normal cameras. So far, very few people have expressed an interest
Yes and no. We could add temperature data fairly easily. Wind speed and direction is a problem because the cameras are not in a position where there is a clear wind stream. The figures we report would be affected by being in the wind shadow of the Grand Hotel. So it is probably not worth it. We suggest checking Magic Seaweed or similar sites to get a view on weather data.
We think that most of the web should always be free to end users. We support that view and intend the cameras to be a free-to-use service forever. This is a not-for-profit activity. If we provide additional services in the future then they may be charged to cover costs, but the basic cameras will remain free.
No. This is a Not for Profit activity. Any income covers running costs. If there is ever anything left, it is reinvested in upgrading the systems.
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