Waternet provides a safe, clean and sufficient supply of water in Amsterdam and the surrounding area, and it is also responsible for cleaning its famous canals. The app VaarWater was developed to help control the increasing crowds of recreational boaters and to reduce disturbances and nuisances on the busy canals. The target audience is recreational boat users, who in general just want to have fun, according to the motto: no plan, no hassle, no rules. The app bridges these two conflicting interests by making itself relevant for these boaters by applying contextualisation, which resulted in a user-centred solution. On a compass, near- by preferred facilities and their distances appear as clear symbols, indicating public toilets, supermarkets and points of interest in Amsterdam and its surrounding area. The app also includes messages by Waternet, as well as traffic rules. Warnings only appear in case of vio- lation, for example when ignoring the permitted cruising speed. The bright and friendly coloured app is completely context-sensitive; it avoids overloading boat users with irrelevant information, allowing Waternet to communicate rules without patronisation and to control traffic-intensive points of interest.

  • Client:
    Stichting Waternet, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Design:
    Uselab, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Statement by the Jury

The VaarWater app supports users on safe boat trips on the Amsterdam canals and acts as a kind of navigation device. The fact that it informs about nearby restaurants, toilets, etc. at the same time and, in particular, warns of dangerous situations has been solved in an intelligent and visually appealing way. Complemented by many practical hints, the app also allows implementing and informing about traffic rules in a charming manner without conveying the feeling to patronise.