The mid-sized city of Trikala, located in central Greece, was dubbed the country’s first smart city in 2004. In the years following, the city has been strategic in its use of digital technologies to improve urban, health and governmental services, as well as the daily lives of its 76,000 citizens. By making it a priority to engage actively and effectively with citizens, Trikala has managed to deliver a number of sustainable initiatives and services, serving as a 21st century model for other cities across Greece to follow. Let’s take a look at how this city made the most of its human and natural resources to significantly improve the lives of its citizens, specifically in terms of healthcare.— Philippe Leonard
Transforming into a 21st-century role model
Technology played a large role when it came to Trikala becoming “smarter.” The city partnered with American companies to use technology in a way that brought the government closer to its citizens. In addition to e-governance, Trikala offers free Wi-Fi throughout the city, as well as Tele-health, driverless buses, and the e-Dialogos platform, where citizens can take part in democratic decision-making. Let’s hone in on one topic, in particular, that’s been a success story for the city: healthcare.
Trikala developed Telecare, a network of remote care for elderly or mobility challenged citizens. With this system, Tele-health services have been installed for chronic patients, such as those with chronic heart failure or asthma, allowing healthcare to be provided at a distance. Wireless sensors are used to monitor vital signs, which are then transferred to a telecare centre, doctor or hospital to be reviewed by experts. Even psychological support is offered through videophone caregivers for patients with mild dementia or depression. The end goal: “reduce the daily burden of care and increase the quality of life of patients and their carers, to improve levels of daily self-help, enhance everyday social interaction and cognitive enhancement. The most important goal, however, is to avoid the introduction of a patient in a hospital or institution and remain in his home near relatives.”
The Vodafone Greece Telemedicine Program is another example of healthcare at a distance that’s benefitting citizens in 100 areas across Greece that are more geographically dispersed. Meanwhile, on Crete, Greece’s largest island, HygeiaNet (the Integrated Regional Health Information Network of Crete) has shown great success integrating electronic health records and apps for health services that cover the entire island, as well as a few cities and remote villages.
By developing smart initiatives in sectors such as healthcare, cities like Trikala and islands like Crete are showing that in spite of a country-wide recession, they can still emerge as major players inspiring other cities across Europe to be smarter with resourceful technological developments.