Features App speeds up anchoring on busy islands

The ideas of two Media Technology students added value to the project Archipelago Business Development.

Published in the printed edition of Baltic Worlds BW 2019:2 pp 88-89
Published on balticworlds.com on June 18, 2019

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For the students who got the chance to test their knowledge in a real-life scenario, their participation in Project Archipelago added value to their university experience. The promotion of entrepreneurship in a unique archipelago environment means thinking outside the box, note the two students Nathalie Westergren and Andrea Viberg, who are studying Media Technology and IT Management at Södertörn University. They use mobile and digital solutions to promote entrepreneurship. They talk animatedly about the assignment they completed within the framework of Archipelago Business Development project (read more at page 86).
“Every student was assigned an island, and we got Sandhamn, which is a very popular island — especially at midsummer. It’s located next to the larger island of Möja, which has about 300 permanent residents, as well as access to a school, doctors etc. Sandhamn, however, is more of a pure summer resort, with just 85 residents and mostly summer houses,” says Nathalie Westergren.
She is a great friend of the archipelago, and has herself spent many summers on Sandhamn and on the lake. She is very familiar with the places and the environment, while for Andrea Viberg it was unknown terrain.
“We had both my insider’s knowledge and Andrea’s ‘outsider perspective’, which together led to our idea of creating an app to facilitate the logistics for boats that want to anchor.”
Andrea Viberg recounts that when they departed from Sandhamn by boat, she saw how the island was surrounded by jetties and anchorage areas, the vast majority of which are private. At the same time, Nathalie Westergren told her about how the boats line up in the summertime to moor at Sandhamn’s marina. The little harbor is very crowded, and long lines can develop.
“Boats waiting in line can’t turn off their engines, because then they drift with the wind or waves,” explains Nathalie Westergren. She confirms that there are clearly also environmental aspects to take into account.

She also notes that one can call in to find out how long the line is. It is also possible to pay to bypass the line — which is quite expensive — and thus scoop a prime spot to drop anchor. According to her, certain people who know someone on the island or have relatives there may also gain faster access to the marina. This leads to bad feelings among boat owners who do not enjoy those benefits.
In the summertime, boat owners often dock briefly at Sandhamn to stock up on provisions. They thus contribute to the livelihoods of the islanders. It is during these few summer months that the islanders must earn incomes that will last them the entire year. It is clearly a financial downside that a large number of prospective customers simply cannot gain access to the island, or perhaps refrain from anchoring there due to the long wait times.
That is why Andrea Viberg saw potential in creating a way for small boat owners to anchor at all the jetties on the island, including the private ones. Using an app, one can see which jetties are available and book a berth for a certain period of time in exchange for a small fee. In the app, private jetty owners can specify when they have an available anchorage. Apparently it is not unusual that permanent residents opt to vacate the island during the busiest part of the summer tourist season — or sometimes they are simply out on the water themselves, leaving behind a vacant mooring.
“We actually used an existing idea (the Airbnb concept), but reframed it in a new context. The app is a tool, while it’s the berth itself that is the service,” explains Andrea Viberg.
How has the idea been received by the locals themselves?
“We conducted a survey about whether they could imagine renting out their berth, and a fair number of people did express concern. ‘What happens if they litter or damage a neighbor’s boat?’ ‘Who is responsible?’ The response was mixed.
The matter of payment must also be resolved before the booking app can be implemented. How will those who rent out their jetties receive their share of the revenue, and how should this be administered? The students believe that the app’s primary purpose is to contribute to increasing the flow of visitors and reducing wait times; it is not meant to be a source of income in itself.

“We presented the idea at a trade fair and there was a lot of interest. We actually gave it to representatives of entrepreneurs in the Finnish archipelago, who thought it was a promising solution,” says Nathalie Westergren.
She notes that there is increasing interest in Sweden as a vacation destination, including among Germans, Dutch and even French tourists. They sail up and want to enjoy the Swedish nature and animal life. The Swedish right of public access is also unique and creates a completely different, universal access to nature.
Nathalie Westergren goes on to explain that she is currently traveling around the various islands, lecturing and educating entrepreneurs about digital solutions that facilitate making the archipelago environment more accessible and increasing income opportunities for business owners.
The student participation has thus also yielded added value for the entrepreneurs, who have gained new ideas and know-ledge. ≈

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