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The digital transformation of the mobility systems and services in Trikala, Greece

Edited on

08 January 2021
Read time: 10 minutes

Trikala, a city of 81.000 citizens in Greece, is an old ‘smart story’ with several correlated projects being implemented in an attempt to meet the social interest and the municipal strategic vision for a “Resilient, Smart and Efficient” city by 2025.

AUTHORS: Harry Kalliaras, George Gorgogetas, Gregory Gordon, George Chrysomallos, Dr Elena Patatouka

Trikala, a city of 81.000 citizens in Greece, is an old ‘smart story’ with several correlated projects being implemented in an attempt to meet the social interest and the municipal strategic vision for a “Resilient, Smart and Efficient” city by 2025. The digital transformation strategy for Trikala is a key component of the city’s strategy for 2025, with a vision for a smart, efficient, resilient and interoperable city, making Trikala a reference for European cities of similar size.

The use of novel digital and telecommunication technologies are transforming the city’s traditional networks and services to more efficient, socially inclusive and transparent systems for the benefit of its inhabitants and businesses in multiple correlated sectors. E-trikala is the first Greece’s 5G-ready city, acting in various ICT fields such as mobility, public space services (public lighting and smart parking), e-health, e-governance, digital infrastructure, e-education and smart energy grid services.

Digitalising and decarbonising transport and the sustainable transformation of mobility systems is a pressing challenge for the city of Trikala. Exploring and deploying emerging new and potentially “smart” transport and mobility systems is fundamental in implementing the transformation agenda, which is taking place in various mobility subsectors: automated mobility, micro-mobility, urban air mobility, active mobility, mobile and big data applications, including also the area of urban logistics.

In that context, Trikala was one of the five European cities selected within the CityMobil2 project to organize large scale demonstrations of an Automated Road Transport System (ARTS). The challenges the demo faced included: integrating the AVs in mixed traffic mode with limited segregation for the first time in Europe and not in a specific protected geographical area; implementing the novel legal framework for vehicle homologation for the first time in Greece and Europe and performing remote emergency breaks. The operation of the CityMobil2 pilot included six automated minibuses that completed 1,490 trips and carried 12,138 passengers in the city center. Trained remote operators at the control center supervised, communicated and controlled the minibuses. The project has contributed to the definition of a novel institutional framework on automated driving published by the Ministry of Transport in Greece to certify safe operation of automated transport in Greek cities. The demonstration and results of the project CityMobil2 shaped the passengers’, citizens’ and stakeholders’ positive acceptance towards the use of automated vehicles in the future and generally towards new innovative systems and services.

Following the successful pilot of CityMobil2, the research project ‘AVINT’ 1 focuses on the integration of autonomous vehicles within the urban context through a demonstration in the city of Trikala Greece. AVINT will study the urban transport context in Trikala and will implement a bus line supported by automated buses in a full integration mode with the city transport network. The specific bus line will provide a viable service for the city interconnecting the city center with the Intercity Bus Station. This is further expanded in the SHOW 2 project, which is the biggest and most holistic ever initiative piloting automated vehicles in urban environments. It gathers a strong partnership including 69 partners from 13 EU-countries and fosters international cooperation by collaborating with organisations from the US, South Korea, Australia, China, and other countries.

Trikala is taking part in HARMONY 3 research project, in which the pilot under preparation is focusing on urban air mobility systems and services. It consists of a drone delivery service for medicines from the city center to the pharmacies in the surrounding rural areas, serving primarily the urgent needs of elderly and other vulnerable social groups with limited accessibility to mobility services. This pilot will improve the everyday life of citizens, decrease the delivery time, reduce operational costs and operate in a safer way promoting social distancing if needed, like in the context of the COVID-19 measures.

ELVITEN 4 is a project working to make the use of Electric Light Vehicles (EL-Vs) in cities a more attractive option to conventionally-fueled alternatives. The project organised extended demonstrations of EL-Vs, where the vehicles were made available for shared use by citizens, city visitors and light goods delivery staff. The use of these vehicles was supported via services for booking and charging/parking, along with apps to collect points and earn rewards. During the pandemic many vehicles were used by the Municipality as well, enhancing and advancing the mobility patterns in the city, as many users were firstly introduced to electric vehicles through this project, facilitating them to use EL-Vs instead of ICE vehicles for their private transport and for light urban deliveries. Via its long demonstrations it collected real vehicles usage data, traces from dedicated ICT tools and users' opinions after real trips. Finally, it also generate detailed guidelines and business models for service providers, Planning Authorities and manufacturers in order to make EL-Vs more integrated in the transport and electricity networks.

Keeping the focus on digital tools centered around citizens and services, Cities-4-People 5 brought together different groups of people to co-create sustainable solutions to the local challenges of urban mobility. The aim was to implement and further promote the best solutions with the active involvement of citizens in the innovation chain of local ecosystems of mobility. The main objectives of the program were to enhance mobility communities with innovative co-operation tools, design of sustainable demand-based urban mobility solutions, promoting the effectiveness of civic-oriented mobility (POTM) and contribute to the creation of new standards for assessing the social impact of new transport interventions. This will effectively create "Mobility Communities" involving citizens, representatives of local authorities, transport providers, innovation specialists, etc. and Citizen Mobility Labs and appropriate tools to enhance community creativity. Co-creation activities designed to co-create sustainable mobility interventions were deployed, along with civil-design testing and evaluation of mobility interventions.

Expanding more services to areas beyond the city, SMARTA2’s overarching objective is to introduce to the residents of rural areas the concept of “car-pooling” in order to reach the city center as well as the use of alternative mobility solutions in order to travel within the city. Trikala’s demonstrator focuses on developing a carpooling app to address the needs of the rural population and provide additional information and online booking access to existing mobility services that operate in the city of Trikala (i.e. real-time information about the expected arrival time of the bus at the stop in the rural areas, smart-lockers/wheelchair scooters/bicycles availability and booking). As a result, the rural population will be able to plan their entire trip to the city of Trikala i.e. both their transport to the city through car-pooling or bus as well as their trips inside the city of Trikala.


All the above research projects have significant economic, societal, environmental and policy benefits and impacts that improve the quality of everyday life and facilitate the development of smart, green, integrated mobility systems in the city of Trikala. In order for our city to lead the forefront of technological innovation and to stay committed to scientific excellence and the youth/innovative ecosystem, the city has initiated GiSeMi HUB 4- the newly inaugurated local innovation hub – that is heavily focusing on IoT, AI applications and digital services aimed at improving the lives of its citizens.

New projects, new investments, new stakeholders and multiple coalitions among local actors create progressively the urban local ecosystem of our city and ensure the follow-up of the effects generated by results. Moving forward, our city is using evidence-based tools for shaping its future digitalization agenda and actions with and for the citizens and for facilitating the integration of smart mobility services with existing public transport and utility systems.