Identifying the need for an app

Directorate-General Shipping (DG Shipping), part of FPS Mobility and Transport, sought to enhance maritime traffic safety and port security for vessels bearing the Belgian flag. Certifications, licenses, and maritime rules needed an accessible channel for distribution, a need that propelled the creation of an app.

The need for an app for DG Shipping was anchored on three main pillars. Firstly, they want to be able to directly communicate legislative changes to users, ensuring compliance and safety. Secondly, to drive the digitization of their processes, streamlining operations and delivering digital certifications efficiently. Lastly, to prioritize user-friendly access to vital information, elevating the boating experience of all enthusiasts in Belgian waters. By ensuring ease of access and user-centricity, the app became a crucial addition to their arsenal.

Guided by these three pillars, they prioritized involving end-users throughout the entire journey. This began with initial workshops and surveys, continuing through the project with dedicated UX workshops to test and refine specific features, ensuring user-centricity at every stage.

The power of low code

DG Shipping's choice of low code stemmed from a crucial need for timely delivery. With a tight deadline of four months before the pleasure boating season began, the app had to be ready at the speed of light. Low code offered the speed and the flexibility required, especially when the project started without a clear decision between a web application or a native app.

Additionally, the decision to opt for a native app over a progressive web app was driven by the necessity for future functionalities, like offline accessibility and push notifications. Keeping flexibility at the forefront of the project's trajectory, they ensured adaptability for future developments.

The results unveiled

In July 2023, the app launched with a lot of positive feedback in response. Offering a fully personalized experience tailored to the user’s situations, locations, and vessels, the app guides users through what they need based on their unique circumstances. It provides easy access to answers about safety concerns, their certificates and more.

But the app's launch marked the beginning rather than the end. The team is already looking at the next steps in this project. Looking ahead, DG Shipping plans to reconvene with end-users to determine the app's future roadmap — prioritizing features based on user needs and identifying areas for further enhancement. This feedback will pave the way for the app's next phases, scheduled to commence in 2024.

The ‘Pleasure Boating’-app wasn't just about delivering a solution; it was a collaborative journey. The collaboration among experts from diverse domains was important in overcoming challenges like integrating with FPS Mobility and Transport’s own authentication system. The success of this project is in the cohesive teamwork, sprint-based approach, and efficient feedback loops.

In essence, apvine's journey with DG Shipping and FPS Mobility and Transport is a testament to effective collaboration, adaptability, and a shared vision for maritime safety in Belgian waters.