Trikala, a medium-sized city located at the heart of the Greek mainland, is internationally known as the Greek flagship smart city. As of 2021, the population stands at 78,508, with approximately 62,000 residents residing in the city, while the rest of the population lives in the suburban and rural areas. It was named Greece’s “first digital city” in 2004 and today, under the identity “Smart Trikala” the municipality has developed a wide range of digital solutions to help improve citizens’ lives. In the process towards digitalisation and automation, it is crucial that Trikala has been selected by the European Commission among 377 cities to participate in the EU Mission for 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030. Cooperative, Connected and Automated Moblity (CCAM) is an essential part of the future transport development and climate neutrality strategy of the city of Trikala.
Picture 1: Central Bridge at Trikala
Τhe project of SINFONICA is providing Trikala the unique opportunity to engage citizens and stakeholders with the CCAM solutions and assess their needs, expectations, perceptions on the current and future situation on CCAM deployments. CCAM is becoming a key element of strong interest in Trikala for all civil society groups and stakeholders involved in the autonomous and connected vehicle sector as well as other connected services.
The city has a challenging geographical landscape as it is divided by Litheos river that results in congestion in the areas around three central bridges. Rural and peri-urban areas are not easily accessible and underserved by public transport. The city residents use mainly driving and at a lower percentage biking and walking for their commuting or the municipal buses of Astiko KTEL that are operating on different lines across the city. Trikala is fostering CCAM in order to improve accessibility of active users working in the city centre, and of vulnerable user groups (families, students, elderly etc.) in central and suburban areas.
Digitalising and decarbonising transport is a pressing challenge for the city of Trikala and thus the city is conducting a large portfolio of projects on CCAM systems and services. Trikala was one of the five European cities selected within the CityMobil2 project to organize a large scale demonstration of an Automated Road Transport System (ARTS). Following the successful pilot of CityMobil2, the research project of ‘AVINT’ focused on the integration of autonomous vehicles within the urban context through a demonstration in Trikala. This has been further expanded in the SHOW project, which is the largest and most holistic ever initiative piloting automated vehicles in urban environments, gathering a strong partnership including 69 partners from 13 EU-countries. IN2CCAM advances and accelerates Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility (CCAM) technologies and services for seamless traffic management across Europe. The project of SINFONICA plays a key role in the CCAM portfolio, as it fosters understanding of the societal needs, which is essential in order to create viable, accessible and affordable CCAM services for all citizens.
Picture 2: Cycling in the center of Trikala
Picture 3: Demonstration with automated delivery robots within Trikala’s Christmas park
Through user engagement strategies such as workshops, interviews, focus groups and surveys, the city of Trikala will provide new and fresh insights on users’ needs, expectations, desires and fears towards CCAM. The priority of Trikala’s Living Lab is to collaborate with vulnerable users and all the mobility stakeholders to understand their needs, desires and concerns, to imagine a concrete and practical CCAM solution. In particular, youth, low income groups, various gender groups, digitally vulnerable people like elderly, people with special mobility needs will be engage. The aim is to provide new opportunities to all social groups of Trikala through the use of CCAM technology, going beyond the usual suspects that already have access to digital tools and applications in the usual practices.
Picture 4: Collective spaces and co-creation in the city of Trikala
SINFONICA is very important as it will accelerate Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility (CCAM) technologies and services and make them available to all by leaving no one behind. The pilot of SINFONICA represents a significant step to the inclusivity of the autonomous mobility planning of the city of Trikala and the future sustainable deployment of automated vehicles in spatial planning and governance.
Keywords: Trikala, smart city, digital city, autonomous vehicle, CCAM, transport, mobility
Author: Elena Patatouka, Christina Karaberi (E-Trikala)
Cover picture from Nestoras Argiris on Unsplash