Port of Antwerp
Annik Dirkx (1978) studied romance languages and international politics. After her studies, she started to work as a journalist for the Belgian national news agency, reporting mainly on the politics and economics of Antwerp. During that time she became familiar with the port of Antwerp, unknown to her up till then. In 2008, she applied for a job as spokeswoman for the Port Authority of Antwerp, the public authority that manages port infrastructure and promotes the port (amongst other tasks).
The port of Antwerp has developed over decades alongside the city. There was a time when the residents of Antwerp would see ships passing whilst they walked along the quay, but that time is long gone. Economic activities, the heart of the port, now take place (at least) some ten kilometres from the city centre. The port employs thousands of Antwerp residents, but those that don’t work there no longer know much about it. The port authority has realised that greater familiarisation and a stronger appreciation of the port by local residents is crucial for it to benefit from a "license to operate, license to grow". During recent years, a fair few initiatives have attempted to unite city and port: the organisation of port days and bus tours for citizens, the opening of the port pavilion as a visitor centre and the publication of the port journal "Haven en Goed", to name just a few.
The idea for our app was born some time ago. We were exploring new ways to communicate to "the people" in the "modern digital world". Applications were becoming a trend, so we decided to go along and develop an app that would enable people to discover the port in a very easy, user-friendly way. Giving users a ‘personalised’ glimp of the port so that they would feel the need to discover the port in person, was the idea behind The Port of Antwerp App. The information about the port that is present in the app, is divided into several categories (e.g. ‘nearby’, ‘mother nature’, ‘longtime ago’, ‘infrastructure’). Every category contains several points of interest. Each point of interest has a description, pictures (if available), information on how to get there, and most of the points challenge the users to partcipate in a small quiz regarding the point they just discovered. The points of interests pop up alongside routes that users can select or choose themselves: there are fixed routes, but users also have the possiblity to personalize their route. By answering three questions (time to spend, modus of transport and interests) the app will define the route that suits the user best.
After some months of preparation, we presented the app at the beginning of July (2014). Now, more than 2500 people installed the free application on their mobile phone. Our user appreciation and feedback is very positive!