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Smart bin vans are keeping Athens clean this summer

The commercial heart of Athens is being revitalised and innovative mobile technology is being used to ensure it stays clean and tidy for residents and visitors.  

The centre of Athens is bordered by three large public squares - Omonoia, Syntagma and Monastiraki – that form the Commercial Triangle within which are a maze of small streets selling all manner of goods.

The Commercial Triangle in Athens is being kept clean by smart bin lorries. Photo credit: Vodafone Greece

In times past Athenians would buy all their food and goods in this area and nowadays it still contains some of the city’s most important buildings and monuments and shops selling everything from lamps to second hand clothes and shoes.   

Following market research with business owners and visitors, Athens authorities - with funding from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation - launched a €28 million investment programme called Athens Trigono to upgrade infrastructure, pedestrianise ​​110 acres of the area, clean up off-putting graffiti and redesign policing and cleaning services.

Giorgos Kaminis, a newly elected member of the Greek parliament who was until recently Mayor of Athens, said: "The upgrading of the Athens Commercial Triangle is a wager for our municipal authority and for me personally. It reflects…the new participatory governance model that we have chosen to implement in the city. Not on our own, but along with every citizen. Together with the area’s shopkeepers, with whom we are in constant dialogue; together with trusted partners, such as Vodafone Greece, we have cooperated through the Digital Council and offer new, innovative services to the city; together with the area’s residents and visitors, as our concern is to make the city centre a destination for promenade and recreation.”

Vodafone Innovus, a subsidiary of Vodafone Greece that specialises in providing internet of things (IoT) services, has helped the local government to solve a particular issue – how to manage the rubbish being generated by the businesses in the Triangle.

Rubbish bins left on the street are an unattractive sight in any city, but are arguably worse in hot countries where any food waste will quickly start to decompose and smell.

To avoid this problem Vodafone, a member of the Digital Council of Athens, created a ‘Smart Waste Collection’ service for businesses and residents.

The company equipped bin lorries serving the area with sensors that can identify and contact businesses when the vehicle is passing using a geofence.

Now, as the lorry drives down each street residents and shopkeepers receive a text message and can carry their rubbish straight out to meet the refuse collector.

Haris Broumidis, Chairman and CEO of Vodafone Greece said: "We have laid the foundations of a smart city, by equipping the municipality with state-of-the-art technologies that will make the everyday life of professionals and citizens in the Commercial Triangle easier and give value to the city's services. We strategically invest in IoT, since we believe it is a technology that will change people’s lives, cities’ daily routine, and businesses’ operation for the better."

Mr Kaminis added: “The Smart waste Collection, with new urban equipment, pedestrian areas, modern lighting and rules in public space management, are transforming the Athens Commercial Triangle into what must be a modern metropolitan centre. And it is an example of how a modern capital, such as Athens, can operate in a cooperative and efficient manner."

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