29 March 2022

The bustling city of Patras is Greece’s third-largest city and is built at the foothills of Mount Panachaikon, overlooking the Gulf of Patras. Blessed with its picturesque views, the city is a place where culture, history and entertainment meet all while exuding a contemporary feeling. The Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) spoke with the city to find out all about its progress on the Citizen participation and digitisation of public administration thematic track.  

Two members of Patras’ ICC City Team outlined the city’s journey - Petros Ganos, Head of Department of Planning and Studies of the Directorate of Planning, Organisation and Informatics in the Municipality of Patras and ICC local project manager and Athanasios Kalogeras, Research Director and Deputy Director of the Industrial Systems Institute of the Research Centre ATHENA. Mr Kalogeras represents the research local ecosystem in the ICC team for the city of Patras. 

The vision of Patras is to become an intelligent, green and digital city with the aim to improve the living conditions of its citizens, professionals and visitors. This will be accomplished through the active involvement of skilled workforce and innovative initiatives by academic and research institutes and by the business sector. The city wants to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the development of next-generation networks. 

The establishment of an Interoperability Centre for the Municipality of Patras is a priority for the city on their ICC journey. This will allow seamless interoperability among different systems at city level facilitated by an Open Data Platform. Public and private stakeholders will thereby be able to share data that could be used for development of innovative solutions and services for increasing quality of life while being enhanced by Reskilling and Upskilling services relevant to both elementary and advanced digital skills. 

Patras has currently uploaded 44 projects on the Open Data Platform portal, increasing the awareness of efforts undertaken at city level and are currently implementing more. Despite the large number of projects, they all share the same focus: innovation and environmental developments. Some of these include: 

  • The distributed network of smart sensors that can measure environmental parameters for more effective management of the Historic City Centre.  

  • The development of smart ICT applications to promote thematic tourism and a project on the Patras Open Mall. This includes a series of innovative smart city solutions, sustainable urban mobility, urban equipment and infrastructure preserving the architectural character of the intervention area. At the same time, the university institutes and the local research centres are undertaking a large number of projects in environmental, mobility and commercial applications.  

  • A pilot project repository (patrasmartcity.isi.gr) has been set up in the framework of ICC, serving as a repository where pilot projects in the city by its entire ecosystem can be showcased – much like the ICC Tech4Good Marketplace

When reflecting on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the city of Patras, the new opportunities for digitalisation stood out in addition to the need for greater resilience from cities. Patras acknowledged how digitalisation appeared as the only way to continue work and social life during the lockdowns and that different steps are needed to make this a reality at city level. The solutions envisaged in the context of ICC drive towards this direction all through the Interoperability Centre, Open Data Platform and Upskilling Reskilling Academy. While the first two focus mainly on the systems and data needed to be exchanged among them, the third is related to digital skills for the entire city ecosystem. City employees and SME staff are the primary targets of the Upskilling Academy for the creation of both elementary digital skills as well as advanced skills related to vertical learning paths. Patras is also utilising the NextGenerationEU RRF for Greece as a financing instrument for city related interventions towards digitalisation.  

Patras acknowledged how the ICC fosters knowledge transfer and good practices involving digital priorities, namely economic development, smart specialisation, smart city and the actions supporting digital transformation. Collaboration between the city and the overall ecosystem in the area is necessary as it helps to attract funding and implement new projects at a city level - ICC will significantly help to this end. The ICC will not only assist through its guidance in undertaking specific development actions, but also in enhancing collaboration among cities. As Mr Ganos said, “Participation in ICC workshops and development of a common view with reference to challenges and solutions for the city proves that ICC can help and foster ecosystem collaboration”. 

The ICC looks forward to seeing what Patras does next on its ICC journey!