Central Bridge @Trikala (photo:Kouris©Greece-is)
Built in the Thessalian plain in the middle of Greece, the medium-sized provincial city of Trikala is a unique destination for those who want to visit a city known not only for its natural and manmade beauty but also for being the first smart city in Greece! Trikala was given a smart city award in 2004, and since then the cityhas a highly planned strategic orientation towards the future using digital technologies or information and communication technologies to enhance quality and performance of urban services, health services, government services and mobility providing added value to the city.
Trikala is the homonymous Prefecture's capital and was built on the location of ancient Trikki. Asklipios, the most eminent doctor of antiquity, originated and practiced medicine here. The Lithaios River (the river of Lithi = “forgetfulness” in mythology) flows through the city of Trikala. Its Central Bridge was manufactured in 1886 in France by French engineers and is made of metal. The banks of Lithaios have been shaped and embellished with very tall plane trees and wild chestnuts creating unique green scenery in the heart of the city. The centre of the city is distinguished by historical byzantine and ottoman monuments, excellent urban planning, spacious squares, parks, pedestrian streets and museums, such as the Tsitsanis Museum, dedicated to Vasilis Tsitsanis, one of Greece's most prominent composers and songwriters, who hailed from Trikala and was particularly influential in the field of ‘Rebetika‘ (urban blues).
This beautiful city is located at a distance of 331 km NW of Athens and 215 km SW of Thessaloniki. At a stone’s throw, there is also the world famous breathtaking site of Meteora, a unique geological phenomenon.Unlike many towns and villages in Greece, Trikala is quite flat – a fact that has contributed to the town becoming one of the most bike-friendly in the country. Three bike paths run through the city and bicycles for public use are even provided by the municipality at certain info points. One of Trikala’s most pleasant bike routes runs alongside the Lithaios River with its clean, cool air and swans and ducks.
With a population of about 76 000, the overall goal is to make sure that collective benefits are maximized by implementing policies that reduce cost and resource consumption to engage more effectively and actively with citizens. Key smart sectors include: Transport, Energy, Health Care, culture, tourism and e-government.
An important asset for Trikala in this context are the TEAM Infrastructure applications and the Collaborative Public Transport Optimization (CPTO) in particular, which aims to increase the flexibility of transport infrastructure by adapting it to the demands and needs of citizens. CPTO analyses input from travelers that is transmitted via smart phone (positions, destination, departure time, selected bus route etc.), traffic information (current road situation) and public transportation timetables. On the basis of this input, the system can provide better bus scheduling. This means that travelers can adapt their routes better in case there is a lot of traffic. It also includes adding and/or skipping bus stops, and it additionally provides pre-trip and post-trip information to the traveler.
Moreover, the European Smart Mobility Resource Manager has also been deployed in the city. This platform includes services and facilities to support collection and processing of information which is supplied by the urban community. It also addresses the efficient and seamless integration of different mobility services while considering limited transport capacities. This covers all transport modes and mobility sharing schemes. The citizens of Trikala can now use services like real-time bus departure information or personalised trip planning and following, which are provided through Android and iOS applications.
Trikala has also enrolled in the Europe-wide e-market place of global mobility services, developed in the framework of the MOBiNET project in order to validate its concept from a business perspective. Trikala, as one of the MOBiNET pilot sites, has the opportunity to test exemplary use cases that have the potential to influence positively the mobility behaviour of citizens. The service validated in the city of Trikala is the multimodal travel assistant that provides a journey planner and necessary information about traffic, buses or parking to a traveller. The assistant gives information to drivers on available parking spaces, navigates them to the selected space and may even be used to automatically pay the parking cost.
Finally, one of the city’s major achievements is the large-scale demonstration of 6 public driverless transport vehicles. The demonstration lasted 5 months (September 2015 – February 2016) in the framework of the CityMobil2 project activities. The six CityMobil2 buses operated as complementary to the rest of the city’s public transportation system on a specific route within the city centre. Greece was the first EU country to apply national law at a very early stage allowing automated transportation. The results of this demonstration have been really useful not only for the city of Trikala but for every city that intends to automate its urban transport system.
The measures to be implemented in order to promote Sustainable Energy by the city of Trikala include the replacement of all existing sodium lamps in street lighting with LED by 2030, the connection of 80% of the buildings within the municipality (residential and non-residential buildings) to the natural gas network by 2030, the increase of cycle lanes by 2.8kms in the next 3 years and by an extra 10km by 2025, the construction of a new ring road around the city by 2020 that will lead to a reduction of transport demand through the city centre and a corresponding decrease in fuel consumption and emissions, the provision of incentives for the promotion of electric and hybrid cars in the city including free parking in the city centre for these cars and an increase in the cost of access to the city centre for conventional cars, the replacement of existing municipal small vehicles with electric cars by 2025 and of all heavy duty municipal vehicles with Euro 6 vehicles by 2030, the implementation of a programme for the development of green spaces in all city squares and open spaces to help reduce cooling demand in nearby buildings by 5% by 2030, and interventions in the municipal sewage treatment plant by 2020 to reduce energy consumption by 25%.
Demosthenes is an online complaint and feedback management platform that allows the municipality of Trikala to register citizen complaints and manage citizen feedback.
E-dialogos is an on-line platform that allows on-line referendums, e-forums and e-consultation. The use of open source software is an ideal match for e-Participation and creates an open and transparent ecosystem: open debate, open decision making processes, open data and open software. Since its initial deployment in the City of Trikala and via additional deployments in the cities of Thessaloniki and Arta as well as the Prefecture of Samos, the Trikala e-Dialogos platform has grown and matured with the development of new advanced features and the adoption of a Web2.0 approach for collaboration and interaction. It’s worth mentioning that E-dialogos had been nominated by the European Commission as a finalist project for the European e-Government Awards 2009, announced during the 5th Ministerial e-Government Conference that took place between 18-20 November 2009 in Malmö, Sweden.