Trikala, Greece

Trikala is a medium-sized city of 81,000 residents, located in the centre of interior Greece. The urban area is a compact, nuclear conurbation with a vibrant city centre, separate old town and a thriving tourist/hospitality offer.

The city of Trikala itself is located in a wide plain, but with mountains within a few tens of kilometres. The flat aspect of the valley floor means the local economy includes a large agriculture component as well as related production activities. Tourism accounts for an increasing proportion of the economy, particularly around key holiday periods. The Christmas fairground ‘Mill of Elves’, running for 6 weeks in December and January has grown notably over the last ten years and now attracts well over a million visitors each year, the largest in Greece.

From Asclepius to the Smart City

Trikala is an old "smart story", whose grassroots lie back in 2003 with several correlated projects being implemented so far. After a decline that appeared in 2010 in terms of social interest, Trikala restarted a fruitful agenda of "smart projects" in an attempt to meet the social interest and the municipal strategic vision for a "Resilient, Smart and Efficient" city by 2025. The ambition is that Trikala will become a reference for European cities of similar size. By developing and testing new smart services via engaging stakeholders, the city will demonstrate how the transformative power of digitisation can work for a common purpose.

The city of Trikala, one of the oldest cities in Europe with a long history that goes back to 3,000 BC being the homeland of Asclepius, the father of Medicine, has been declared as the first Digital City in Greece and was shortlisted as one of the top 21 smart cities in the world for its adoption of technology to improve services, increase transparency and become more efficient. Trikala is one of the most dynamic medium-sized cities in Europe, being a pioneer in designing innovative ICT solutions in electromobility, energy, e-health and open governance for the benefit of its citizens.

A pioneer in sustainable mobility

Trikala has been among the pioneering cities in the field of automated mobility, as it has succeeded in implementing a driverless bus pilot scheme under the EU funded project "CityMobil2". The Trikala project represents innovation on an international level, since the automated vehicles circulated within the city’s urban fabric as opposed to other demonstrations which operated in more secluded and protected environments. The driverless buses were the final touch to the city’s “Smart City” pilot scheme and attracted the attention of scientists and institutions from around the world. This has accelerated processes for setting up a legal framework in Greece for autonomous driving, which was responsibility of the Ministry of Transport, that allows, under strict conditions, the operation of automated buses without a driver. The huge success of the project has been confirmed by further funding of new demonstrations in the under development projects AVINT and SHOW.

Trikala has a strong cycling culture and is expanding the pedestrianised area in the city centre. Support for this includes city bikes, new eBikes, and plans to significantly increase the dedicated cycling network, from 6.5km of bike lanes to nearly 12km (on road and off-road).

Sustainable development through the circular economy

In Trikala the aim is to co-create a good quality of life accessible to all, inside the urban boundaries as well as in the rural peri-urban spaces of the city. That is done in a circular city in which the transition towards a climate-neutral economy is done in a way that leaves no one behind. The city is adopting smart approaches in different fields. For example, through the pilot of BioCanteens Transfer Network, the city is ensuring the distribution of sustainable school meals towards the development of a circular, integrated local agri-food approach. In parallel, through the CIRC4FooD project, the city of Trikala studies and develops a pilot on agri-food systems inspired by the circular economy methodologies and tools that combine composting and rainwater harvesting, while reducing the environmental footprint.