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News article created on 1 March 2016

The future of canals is mobile

An EU-funded project has shown the growing potential for mobile apps to help us manage our waterways

Now completed, the ‘Numericanal’ project – led by the Canal & River Trust – involved partners from the Netherlands, France and Belgium, and took a collaborative approach to applying new technology to historic waterways.

Part of the project explored ways in which mobile technology can be used by boaters and canal authorities to better manage the waterways:

  • Plans for a pilot canal control centre have been developed for the UK’s waterways
  • Voies Navigables de France produced a mobile app that maps out the country’s waterways. Users can declare any incidents on the canal and find information on the services available in their area, such as where water is available, where restaurants are and the location of rest zones
  • Eindhoven (Netherlands) created an app to show larger commercial ships and smaller leisure boats the location of traffic on the canal and any danger zones
  • CETIC (Belgium) launched an app featuring a guidebook, safety advice, weather forecast, sailing times, waterway dimensions, events and parking, among other things 

Stephen Higham at the Canal & River Trust, said: “This project has started the process of bridging the gap between the problems waterways face and the technology available, as well as the distance between our partners. 

"Historically, waterways have been managed at a local level, and there have been few instances of technology being shared across borders.  Numericanal challenged this, and has led to a real change in the mindset of waterway organisations along with innovative technological advances.”