Reference case

Waterbus in Brussels


The customer requested a customized passenger information solution for water transport in Brussels. In fact, in the city, the boats that circulate on the Zanne Canal are a major component of local public transport.


The main use case is to show, in real time, the position of the boats, which are equipped with Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL), thanks to the integration with the APIs offered within the bIoTope project for the GPS position.


Another important challenge is to allow residents and tourists to consult the timetable of stops, also showing the ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival), as well as providing them with realtime information about notices and the status of the service.


To purchase a ticket, it is necessary to connect to an already existing e-commerce system, which requires the input of personal data each time; this is a non-optimal user experience. The goal is to improve the experience by autocompleting this data. To simplify the data treatment for the customer, we were asked to consider a very light use, without any registration and no data tracing on the server side, but only locally.


In this project, particular attention was paid to the languages available, as the local population speaks French and Dutch, while most of the tourists speak English.


The technical solution is the app Waterbus – available for Android and iOS platforms – that acts as a real-time passenger information system.


The app has the following features:

  • real time visualization of the position of the boats and the stops on the map
  • next time arrivals
  • launch of the preferred navigation app
  • display of the timetables with search by stop
  • display of fares based on boarding and disembarkation areas
  • notices and information regarding the status of the service
  • questions and answers about the use of the service (FAQ)
  • proactive suggestion of the ticket, taking into consideration current time, booking history and closest stops to your position
  • reservation of the ticket and redirection to the existing e-commerce

The customer does not want any server-side solution, so all processing has been optimized for the client environment. Usage data, used for proactive suggestions, or personal data used for the booking form are not shared with an external server, but are stored within the device through local database and preferences file.


The app has two integration points, for querying the APIs made available by the AVL system and for passing data to the e-commerce for ticket purchase.


Users in Brussels, thanks to Waterbus app, experience simplified accessibility to public transport on water, being able to have information and travel tickets in the palm of their hands.


Fruition of travel information is very quick, thanks to an easy-to-use app, which has required a simplification effort and which is available in several languages. Users are enabled to know the real position of the boats, next time arrivals and departures at a particular stop and can proceed with the purchase of the correct travel ticket.


In this project there is no server part or registration procedure; it is the app itself that stores personal data and trips made – exclusively locally – in order to help facilitating the purchase process, without re-entering the credentials. This feature facilitates the user experience and represents an incentive to repurchase.