Veolia Group is a world-leading resource management organization. With a team of roughly 170,000 people worldwide, the Group designs and provides solutions for water, waste, and energy management to tackle humanitarian, social and environmental issues. To contribute to the sustainable development of communities and industry with its three complementary business activities, Veolia helps increase resource accessibility, preserve available resources as well as replenish them.
Entering China in the 1990s, Veolia has already covered more than 80 projects in over 40 cities across the country, including waste management as well as water and energy activities.
Sinopec, Asia's largest refiner, has chosen Veolia China to manage the whole water cycle of its enormous Yanshan petrochemical complex in Beijing. This partnership successfully implemented the best environmental standards on the Yanshan site, including rehabilitation programs for the wetlands of the area. The result was the Niukouyu Wetland Park, a unique entertainment and leisure venue that processes industrial wastewater from the Yanshan plant and responsibly complies with the ecological normative. The Chinese government in the last decade has prioritized environment protections in urban cities. In a joint effort of eliminating environmental degradation, Niukouyu Wetland Park’s rehabilitation was launched to improve the local natural ecological environment and express social responsibility.
Niukouyu Wetland Park
Veolia and Sinopec’s goal was to bring real benefit to the local communities by creating a bespoke journey via interactive experience to educate visitors about eco-tourism and natural habitat protection. To achieve this goal, they needed a partner able to consult and holistically execute on that vision, creating an engaging experience making full use of the digital journey within the physical environment.
A look at Niukouyu’s App
To better showcase their expertise and efforts in terms of environmental protection, one main objective was detected after a consultancy phase: create an interactive, personalized O2O experience as visitors access and move inside the park, guiding them throughout the journey in an engaging way, while educating them at the same time. The experience would be powered by an app, connected with multiple beacons.
Easier said than done right? Let’s discover how the project came to creation.
Creating a mobile application with Beacon technology
1. The Beacon Technology
The backbone of the experience is created by connecting an APP with multiple beacons.
Beacons are small, wireless transmitters that use a technology called BLE—Bluetooth Low Energy—to broadcast a unique identifier to nearby smart devices and make location-based searching and interaction easier and more accurate. The beacons perform a programmed function once connected. iBeacon—a protocol developed by Apple—was selected to make this experience possible.
iBeacon interacts with users’ smart devices when they come into Beacon domain areas guided by GPS across the structure. When a user reaches proximity to a specific beacon, content is pushed to the dedicated app automatically.
2. The Application
Users interact with the O2O experience via a bilingual app APP. When they enter a beacon-integrated area, the app showcases content retrieved from the Beacons such as information about a specific species in the park, quizzes, and audios with which users can interact and learn about the topics of environment and habitat. Moreover, the app employs GPS to help users navigate beacon-integrated areas with an illustrated map of the Wetland Park. With the help of GPS, users are guided at any stage of their journey. On top of that, users can get news and updates about Veolia or Niukouyu Wetland Park on the app’s news page. Finally, visitors can send feedback about their journey at the end of the visit directly from the app as well as share their experience with friends on their WeChat account.
The User Interface design is simple yet eye-catching with light turquoise and white as the main colors, coupled with a clean and consistent illustration style to create a pleasant and consistent user journey. On top of this, the App’s navigation is intuitive with a smooth, streamlined User Experience.
Smart devices retrieve information pushed by the beacons
On top of the main app, a “Lite” version was created to be used by old mobile devices. The main difference is that the Lite version is not connected with GPS and The Beacon Technology, displaying content without connecting to Beacons, meaning it uses less data, saves space on your phone, and works well across all network conditions.
Dissecting the Journey
How does this work step by step? The user journey takes place right when the visitor enters the Park Entrance and unfolds as below:
1. The user scans the QR code at the Park entrance which will lead them to the App download page.
2. The Welcome Page introduces the park, the security rules, and the different features.
3. The map available on the app enables the users to locate 15 interactive areas across the wetland.
4. Once the user enters a zone covered with beacons, their phone vibrates and a notification is pushed to display a specific type of content according to the area and the selected journey.
5. Next, users can enjoy quizzes that appear along with the experience.
6. At the end of the journey, the visitors can leave feedback and share their experience at Niukouyu Wetland Park with their friends through WeChat.
On top of the iBeacon, the project was built using a headless architecture, featuring Laravel in the back-end and React Native in the front-end, guaranteeing full flexibility, scalability, and performance.
Gia, our lead front-end developer of the project, shares his thoughts:
Our team chose React Native on front-end, iBeacon and Laravel on the back-end for Veolia Niukouyu Wetland Park to increase visitor interaction. Laravel was mainly used to update content (quiz, images, beacon information). React Native is natively cross-platform between iOS and Android, meaning that we save a large amount of time developing two platforms at the same time. We're happy to have delivered this challenging project and helped Veolia in their educational goal.
Amber Liu, Performance Manager of Veolia Beijing, shared her feedback on the project:
We are very happy to have chosen ITC as our digital partner. The ITC team was 100% dedicated to ou success and translated our project idea into a great experience with the beacons. I want to thank ITC creative minds. I would recommend ITC without a doubt!
The result is a stunning mobile application connected with iBeacon for an innovative visitor experience at Niukouyu Wetland Park. Beacon Technology made it easy for Veolia to create an interactive learning opportunity that is both interesting and easily digestible by automatically push educational content to users’ smart devices throughout their journey. In turn, users can enjoy a gamified and educational experience with a seamless user journey.