This blog post will focus on how to turn a marina to a smart marina with the help of connected technologies. Learn how to modernize a marina by monitoring berths, measuring depth of water and observing weather conditions.
Smart marina opportunities
The nautical tourism and yachting markets have been constantly growing the last couple of years. According to the European Commission, there exist more than 4,500 inland and coastal marinas in Europe. The marinas provide more than 70,000 jobs and generate close to € 4 billion in turnover annually. Even if the market increases in size and in turnover, the developments in technical innovation is not happening at the same pace. Therefore, we have developed a design of a solution which will transform marinas into smart marinas in order to improve quality and efficiency of service activities, and ease the access to relevant information for sailors.
Challenges for a smart marina solution
Building a digital smart marina improves the value for the users as well as for the owners of the marina, but can be rather complex to develop. Such systems require real-time information flows, connection to mobile phones sensors (GPS and/or Bluetooth), integration of various IoT devices relying on different protocols (movement, wind and water sensors) and integration of external sources of information (weather, sea charts…). The biggest challenge lies in linking and integrating all these devices and protocols together while insuring scalability and high responsiveness of the system. The technology provided by Matchmore allows aggregation of heterogeneous sensors and creation of rules of automation using the same simple programming paradigm, no matter what devices, protocols and development platform are required.
One of the most important aspects for sailors and boaters is safety. The sea can be beautiful, but sometimes also extremely dangerous. Therefore, there is a need of a reliable sea chart and access to a proper weather provider. We are currently exploring the possibility of an integration of the sea charts providers Navionics and Jeppesen, as well as the weather providers Weather4D and Windfinder.
Our solution for a smart marina system consists of a web-based admin platform, and a mobile app for sailors and boaters. If you are interested in updating/creating your own smart marina solution, Matchmore can help you by developing ready-to-use components or even the entire solution. Don't hesitate to contact us! The functionalities we propose in our solution can either be integrated separately, or all of them together, into a mobile app. Worth mentioning, our solution requires the use of internet, so our solution only works in coastal areas, where there is connectivity.
The available features are the following:
- Integration of e-booking
- Real-time information about available berth places
- Real-time information about weather conditions and depth of water in marinas
- Navigation in marinas for smooth mooring
- Guidance to nearby costal areas
- Proximity chat
- Destination information
Description of features which will create a smart marina
Integration of e-booking
If you have been out sailing or boating, you know the struggle to plan your route in order to arrive to a marina in time to get an available berth place. In some cases, it's possible to call in advance and reserve a spot. Imagine to have the possibility to reserve a berth in advance through an app. Based on your location and the characteristics of your boat (e.g. length, draft), the app will show nearby marinas and their available berth places in real-time. If you already know your route in advance, wouldn't be nice to book berth places in your chosen marinas through a mobile app?
It's also possible to automatically send information to the marina when the boat approaches. In this way, the marina can easily organize the arrivals of the boats.
Real-time information about available berth places
Weather at sea can change fast. As a sailor or boater, you sometimes have to obey mother nature and change the route due to wind, rain or storms. In these cases, you would like to know if there are any available berth places in the nearby marinas. Instead of loosing time by calling different marinas and asking, you can directly see available places. This feature provides the sailors and boaters with more flexibility, safety and comfort.
Real-time information about weather conditions and depth of water
As mentioned above, sailors and boaters are more sensitive to the weather conditions than any other mean of transportation. Providing real-time information about weather conditions and the depth of the water in the marinas, will definitely help boaters and sailors in their daily activities. This is all doable thanks to multiple connected IoT sensors, and integrations to existing reliable weather providers.
Navigation in marinas for smooth mooring
Marinas across the globe all have different setups, architectures and designs. Even the smallest marinas can be difficult to navigate in. Let's assume the sailor or the boater has discovered there is an available berth place in a nearby marina, and wants to go there in the quickest and smoothest way possible. This feature can assist them to the nearest available berth place in the marina by wayfinding. As mentioned above, we are currently exploring the possibility to integrate our solution to existing sea charting solutions.
Guiding to nearby coastal areas
The employees of a marina usually have good knowledge of the nearby coastal areas. They often possess information about beautiful places worth a visit. This feature will let the marina employees, or other people with a good local knowledge, mark out beautiful hidden places nearby thanks to pin points. It's possible to add several pin points and create connective routes. Our solution allows information to be attached to the pin points, such as pictures, facts about the chosen places and reviews, making the guiding highly dynamic.
E-booking and other digital services are great solutions. However, nothing can replace the human touch. Therefore, we also provide a proximity-based chat for our smart marina solution. Boaters and sailors have the possibility to chat with representatives from the marina for specific questions when they approach the marina. This feature also enables communication with other boaters to discuss routes, beautiful bays or other sea related topics. The proximity-based chat will serve as an addition to other means of communication, and will not replace the radio for example. The radio plays an important role for sea safety.
After arriving safe in the marina, our solution can provide valuable information about the marina and its surrounding town. Information such as opening hours for the marina administration, marina fees, where to throw the trash and location of showers are just a few examples. Our solution also allows external information to be integrated, such as promotions of nearby restaurants or shops, creating a full experience for the sailors and boaters.
Below is an image providing information of how our solution for a smart marina works.
1a. Thanks to IoT sensors, the solution is able to check the available berth space at all times.
1b. The system also allows real-time information on weather and depth of water thanks to multiple IoT sensors.
2. The system gathers all information collected by all sensors and send it to the platform.
3. The platform receives the information and updates the platform.
4. The platform creates a publication based on the gathered information.
5. The system will create matches when a boat approaches.
6. The boater will receive the information through a mobile app when matching with the publication created by the system.
Here is a visual illustration of how our solution works. Please read the explanation below the picture.
Let's assume out boater or sailor is named Tim. Tim was able to make a reservation in the marina thanks to the integrated e-booking system. Whenever Tim approaches the marina and its pin points, the app will call the platform and receive all information about the marina. The relevant information for Tim will be displayed in his mobile application. Examples of information could be information about his reserved berth place and information about the weather conditions. Since the marina is big, Tim could use the marina navigation assistance in order to get to his berth place in a smooth and safe way. When Tim and the boat are in place, Tim could use the app to discover local hidden places marked out by pinpoints for tomorrow's trip or recommended nearby restaurants. All information in delivered in real-time to Tim.
Are you interested in our solution, or would like to know more? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get in touch!
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