Corfu is an island off the northwest coast of Greece, known for its rich cultural history, unique identity, regal monuments and beautiful landscape. The Old Town area is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the most important fortified city ports in the Mediterranean. The residents take pride in their island, which is why the Municipality of Central Corfu and the Diapontian Islands (MCCDI) have been working hard to fulfil their vision of becoming one of the most sustainable islands in Europe.
In a conversation with Dr. Panagiota Tzanne, Project Manager of Corfu’s Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) team and Deputy Mayor of European Programmes, Development and Digital Governance, we learned about the city’s recent projects. While Corfu’s focus is on waste management and circular economy, significant progress within digitisation and green mobility has also been made.
Waste Management and Circular Economy
As an island municipality, Corfu had previously struggled with collecting waste and transporting it to the mainland for processing, resulting in waste accumulation in some areas. Dr. Tzanne explained how the city is addressing this issue.
- To make sorting and recycling easier for citizens, MCCDI has installed separate collection points for waste streams such as textiles and electronics. In the next year, the networks for paper and cardboard, cooking oils and bio-waste composting will be expanded as well.
- One of the main roadblocks to recycling is a lack of knowledge. Using a new branch of the city website, MCCDI educates citizens about where, when, how and why they should recycle. Soon, the city will also sponsor a dedicated informational campaign, with social media content, events and more.
- Sensors at collection points will help waste collection vehicles optimise their routes and further reduce emissions.
Digitisation of Public Administration
MCCDI has taken several steps to expand citizen access to digital resources and increase engagement in governance.
- To optimise their online presence, the city has expanded their free public Wi-Fi network and built out their website to include three unique pages for recycling, tourism and smart city efforts.
- Corfu’s leaders implemented Novoville, a platform designed to collect citizen concerns and address them quickly. Out of the requests submitted since adopting the tool, just three percent are still pending.
- Finally, MCCDI has added transparency to government affairs by uploading city council meetings, relevant documents and other information to their website.
As an island, navigating the city and maintaining the health of the roads can be a challenge. The municipality has taken steps to reduce the city’s carbon footprint when it comes to transportation.
- By focusing on detailed planning, Corfu is equipped to handle the transition to green transport. The city signed the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, which will be executed over the course of the next 15 years. MCCDI also created a comprehensive Electric Vehicle Charging Plan to support electric vehicle use on the island.
- To reduce congestion, the city has invested in research of car-sharing programmes.
- Transport stops will also see an upgrade in the near future, including better protection from the weather, adequate lighting, and passenger information.
With leadership dedicated to change and eager to learn about the best way forward, Corfu was an ideal candidate for the ICC. Dr. Tzanne acknowledged the value of the ICC and the unique opportunity it offers to form specific thematic networks with other cities facing similar challenges in order to share experiences.
The ICC looks forward to Corfu’s continued transformation to a more sustainable, smart island.