Leo G. Anthopoulos

Leo G. Anthopoulos is a PhD candidate in the Department of Informatics, of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. He was born in Trikala, Greece, where he completed his education. He is a teacher of informatics in Greek secondary education, a computer science consultant for the Municipality of Trikala, Greece, and he is supervising the development of several e-government projects. He is the scientist responsible for the e-Trikala project, the first Digital City in Greece. Anthopoulos is the co-author of two previous GTI articles Moving Toward the E-City, and E-Government: A Greek Perspective

Trikala -- announced as the first Digital City in Greece by the Greek Vice Minister of Economics C. Folias late last year -- will finish its first phase of development by the middle of 2006, with funding from the Greek Information Society Framework Program.

The Digital City ICT applications aim to improve everyday life by simplifying public transactions, reducing telecommunication costs and by delivering new services related to the local way of life. Those ICT applications also offer new methods to enable citizens to participate in policy-making, and help ensure local government and public authorities as guarantors of the local society's proper operation.

Every medium-sized city has its own social, economic, geographic or political characteristics. For this reason the digital city can vary from region to region, so that ICT applications enhance local characteristics rather than detract from them.

The Digital City Model

The Digital City has four-layers:

  • Infrastructures: refer to the necessary hardware and software to make the Digital City operational (eg. fiber optic or wireless public broadband networks, local networks, terminals for public use, points of access, operation systems etc).
  • Application layer: applications and digital services that refer to life events or business situations. For example:

    Consider a citizen who wants to travel by bus from place A to place B in the area of a Digital City. The traveller needs to know the exact time of departure and arrival of the appropriate bus. This service will be offered via the "Intelligent Transport Systems" infrastructures and is delivered to the citizen via a Web portal, an RDS system or through a digital board installed in the bus station. A citizen who wants to apply for a birth certificate will be assisted by an "e-Government system," and will be "triggered" by a call to a 311-like phone number or via the Internet, will be executed in the municipal back office and the birth certificate will be posted to the citizen.

  • End-users: refer to citizens, organized teams of citizens (eg. students, municipal employees etc).
  • The back-office: refers to all organized authorities and enterprises that produce and deliver information to the end-users or execute public services and digital transactions in general. Employees, who belong to municipal authorities for instance, will execute public services. Additionally, local enterprises will participate in local electronic market places.
The E-Trikala Project consists of a number of individual ICT projects, some of which are already implemented. Others are in the auctioning process, while others are in the design phase. All projects described here refer to the first phase of e-Trikala. When the projects are implemented, a business plan will be designed that will focus on their maintenance and extension. The E-Trikala project is developed under the responsibility of the Municipality of Trikala.

Promotion of Broadband Use

The Digital City will be a successful project only if users become active members and participants of digital affairs.

  • For this purpose "Promotion of Broadband Use" is the first project under development. DSL technology, upgrades the existing cable networks, to ones that can rapidly deliver large pieces of digital information such as photos and video. Two kiosks will be located in public buildings, operating for 10 months to present broadband advantages. In the meantime, special events will be organized to present specific applications based on broadband solutions, oriented to groups of citizens (as professionals, lawyers, students, etc.).

    The Municipal Library of Trikala is one of 30 selected in Greece, to join the Greek National Network of Public Libraries. Via this network, the library will have access to catalogues of all Greek public libraries, to special Web portals, but also to a "digital depository of books and periodicals" developed at the national level. Users of the Municipal Library will access a helpdesk located in-house, where PCs with controlled Internet access are installed, in order to view or order articles and books in digital form.

    Another project aims to implement a collection of special digital books, written and published in Trikala, which refer to the local cultural environment and history. The material that will be digitized refer to various historical periods, with reports on Asklipios (the doctor of ancient Greece), to the Folklore Museum, to the Center of Greek Music Authors -- born in Trikala -- and to the Athletic Museum of Trikala. The digitization will help the local authority to manage and maintain the cultural heritage of Trikala, but also to make it known to the local society. For the purposes of the project, a multimedia title will be produced, submitted to national and international museums and cultural institutions. The aim of the project is to demonstrate the local cultural heritage, present it to specialists and to invite scientists and experts to perform further research above them.

    A Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) has been designed, that will install a fibre-optic telecommunications network in the area of the city of Trikala. The network will initially link buildings hosting public authorities, and possibly connect individuals and enterprises. A study was conducted and 40 such buildings -- points of public service -- were mapped to join the network. The MAN will extend to 30 kilometers, covering the bigger part of city, while it will be linked to the Internet and to the National Network of Public Administration (Syzefxis). Information exchange will occur via high-speed infrastructure, offering real-time video exchange, and other high-quality services. The MAN is expected to minimize telecommunication costs for the public authorities of Trikala and to be the basic infrastructure which will host all digital public services of the e-Trikala project.

    The project has been evaluated positively by the Greek Ministry of Finance and its implementation is expected to begin by the first half of 2005 and to be completed by the end of this year.

    A supplementary wireless broadband network has been designed along the same concept, to extend broadband telecommunication over the wider region of Trikala prefecture, linking buildings that host public authorities. This network will support the involved institutions offering high-speed voice and data communications at minimal cost.

    The wireless network is based on signal transmission over high-band frequencies. The network will be linked to the Trikala MAN via the Internet and the Syzefxis network. The next phase of wireless network's installation, will investigate the possibility of diffusion to citizens and the enterprises. The project is also expected to be completed by the end of this year.

    E-Government System for Citizens

    Five large Municipalities of Trikala prefecture will offer municipal digital public services via a one-stop e-Government portal. The portal will be used by all citizens belonging to the involved municipalities and will provide a few digital public services via Web or phone. Citizens will apply for

    • automated or custom public services. The result of service (a certificate) will be posted to them via mail, or via the public citizen offices KEP located in each municipality.

      The execution of custom public services will be based on the collaboration of executives automatically selected by directory systems. The execution of the service will be manipulated without members being aware of each other's identity; and will be monitored by the citizens who will have the ability to complain if delays occur. The system will contain mechanisms to evaluate the performance of involved participants, in order to provide motives to civil servants to improve their skills. The project is expected to be completed this year.

      Intelligent Transport

      This particular project refers to the development of a control room for the municipal and urban transport vehicles, and to provide instant information to citizens about mass transport itineraries. An AVL system -- the software component of the intelligent transport system -- will gather traffic data from the downtown area, in order to submit real-time messages about arrival and departure of buses covering specific routes. Messages will also inform citizens about parking spaces in municipal stations. Citizens will be informed via electronic plates installed in bus stations, via a Web portal developed for this purpose or via RDS systems. Furthermore, they will inform the passengers of buses of the precise time of arrival to the next station.

      Tele-Care Center

      A center will be developed to offer distant non-stop support to elderly and to frail citizens (eg. individuals with difficulties on movement or with chronic diseases). The center will be staffed with specialised personnel. Citizens supported by this center will install video-phone equipment in-house, allowing them to communicate with the center, sending video information, but also to converse and to receive care support from center staff. Others will receive a portable device (like a cell phone), enabling them to be monitored by the center, while they move around the city.

      Staff will monitor citizens via ICT equipment (a GIS and a CRM system keeping historical clinic information). In the event of critical incidents, they will be directed to the local hospital for instant response. During the first phase of operation, the tele-care center will support about 100 citizens, while gradually it will grow to support the total number of citizens that need care. This project is also expected to be completed this year.

      Design-Phase Projects

      A number of projects are in the design phase. Those include:

      • Training courses on ICT for civil servants. An estimated 200 civil servants will participate in training courses on specific ICT skills.
      • Electronic marketplace for local enterprises. The aim of the project is the development of an e-marketplace, operating under the responsibility of the Trikala Commercial Chamber. The e-marketplace will allocate virtual spaces of exhibition and management to all members of Chamber, so that the local product will be presented over the limits of Trikala Prefecture. Citizens will access the marketplace via the Internet while the involved enterprises will keep catalogues of their products updated, dispatch orders and overview their sales.
      • GIS networks for water and energy, environmental data, emergency management and protection. ICT infrastructures will be installed at the public safety agencies to assist coordination.
      • Metropolitan ERP System A common platform of enterprise analysis and financial information management will be installed for all public agencies. The project will enable transparency of public transactions and public procurement in the area.
      • Urban tele-work centers. Tele-work appears to contribute in the mitigation of unemployment in the area of Trikala, by extending the labor market over local or national borders. Tele-workers in the countries of Western Europe and in India are the proof of the possibility for the project to succeed.
          • evelopment. DSL technology, upgrades the existing cable networks, to ones that can rapidly deliver large pieces of digital information such as photos and video. Two kiosks will be located in public buildings, operating for 10 months to present broadband advantages. In the meantime, special events will be organized to present specific applications based on broadband solutions, oriented to groups of citizens (as professionals, lawyers, students, etc.).

            The Municipal Library of Trikala is one of 30 selected in Greece, to join the Greek National Network of Public Libraries. Via this network, the library will have access to catalogues of all Greek public libraries, to special Web portals, but also to a "digital depository of books and periodicals" developed at the national level. Users of the Municipal Library will access a helpdesk located in-house, where PCs with controlled Internet access are installed, in order to view or order articles and books in digital form.

            Another project aims to implement a collection of special digital books, written and published in Trikala, which refer to the local cultural environment and history. The material that will be digitized refer to various historical periods, with reports on Asklipios (the doctor of ancient Greece), to the Folklore Museum, to the Center of Greek Music Authors -- born in Trikala -- and to the Athletic Museum of Trikala. The digitization will help the local authority to manage and maintain the cultural heritage of Trikala, but also to make it known to the local society. For the purposes of the project, a multimedia title will be produced, submitted to national and international museums and cultural institutions. The aim of the project is to demonstrate the local cultural heritage, present it to specialists and to invite scientists and experts to perform further research above them.

            A Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) has been designed, that will install a fibre-optic telecommunications network in the area of the city of Trikala. The network will initially link buildings hosting public authorities, and possibly connect individuals and enterprises. A study was conducted and 40 such buildings -- points of public service -- were mapped to join the network. The MAN will extend to 30 kilometers, covering the bigger part of city, while it will be linked to the Internet and to the National Network of Public Administration (Syzefxis). Information exchange will occur via high-speed infrastructure, offering real-time video exchange, and other high-quality services. The MAN is expected to minimize telecommunication costs for the public authorities of Trikala and to be the basic infrastructure which will host all digital public services of the e-Trikala project.

            The project has been evaluated positively by the Greek Ministry of Finance and its implementation is expected to begin by the first half of 2005 and to be completed by the end of this year.

            A supplementary wireless broadband network has been designed along the same concept, to extend broadband telecommunication over the wider region of Trikala prefecture, linking buildings that host public authorities. This network will support the involved institutions offering high-speed voice and data communications at minimal cost.

            The wireless network is based on signal transmission over high-band frequencies. The network will be linked to the Trikala MAN via the Internet and the Syzefxis network. The next phase of wireless network's installation, will investigate the possibility of diffusion to citizens and the enterprises. The project is also expected to be completed by the end of this year.

            E-Government System for Citizens

            Five large Municipalities of Trikala prefecture will offer municipal digital public services via a one-stop e-Government portal. The portal will be used by all citizens belonging to the involved municipalities and will provide a few digital public services via Web or phone. Citizens will apply for automated or custom public services. The result of service (a certificate) will be posted to them via mail, or via the public citizen offices KEP located in each municipality.

            The execution of custom public services will be based on the collaboration of executives automatically selected by directory systems. The execution of the service will be manipulated without members being aware of each other's identity; and will be monitored by the citizens who will have the ability to complain if delays occur. The system will contain mechanisms to evaluate the performance of involved participants, in order to provide motives to civil servants to improve their skills. The project is expected to be completed this year.

            Intelligent Transport

            This particular project refers to the development of a control room for the municipal and urban transport vehicles, and to provide instant information to citizens about mass transport itineraries. An AVL system -- the software component of the intelligent transport system -- will gather traffic data from the downtown area, in order to submit real-time messages about arrival and departure of buses covering specific routes. Messages will also inform citizens about parking spaces in municipal stations. Citizens will be informed via electronic plates installed in bus stations, via a Web portal developed for this purpose or via RDS systems. Furthermore, they will inform the passengers of buses of the precise time of arrival to the next station.

            Tele-Care Center

            A center will be developed to offer distant non-stop support to elderly and to frail citizens (eg. individuals with difficulties on movement or with chronic diseases). The center will be staffed with specialised personnel. Citizens supported by this center will install video-phone equipment in-house, allowing them to communicate with the center, sending video information, but also to converse and to receive care support from center staff. Others will receive a portable device (like a cell phone), enabling them to be monitored by the center, while they move around the city.

            Staff will monitor citizens via ICT equipment (a GIS and a CRM system keeping historical clinic information). In the event of critical incidents, they will be directed to the local hospital for instant response. During the first phase of operation, the tele-care center will support about 100 citizens, while gradually it will grow to support the total number of citizens that need care. This project is also expected to be completed this year.

            Design-Phase Projects

            A number of projects are in the design phase. Those include:

            • Training courses on ICT for civil servants. An estimated 200 civil servants will participate in training courses on specific ICT skills.
            • Electronic marketplace for local enterprises. The aim of the project is the development of an e-marketplace, operating under the responsibility of the Trikala Commercial Chamber. The e-marketplace will allocate virtual spaces of exhibition and management to all members of Chamber, so that the local product will be presented over the limits of Trikala Prefecture. Citizens will access the marketplace via the Internet while the involved enterprises will keep catalogues of their products updated, dispatch orders and overview their sales.
            • GIS networks for water and energy, environmental data, emergency management and protection. ICT infrastructures will be installed at the public safety agencies to assist coordination.
            • Metropolitan ERP System A common platform of enterprise analysis and financial information management will be installed for all public agencies. The project will enable transparency of public transactions and public procurement in the area.
            • Urban tele-work centers. Tele-work appears to contribute in the mitigation of unemployment in the area of Trikala, by extending the labor market over local or national borders. Tele-workers in the countries of Western Europe and in India are the proof of the possibility for the project to succeed.
            • Distance learning courses to the unemployed. The project will initially have pilot form, with 30 to 50 participants, offering vocational training via the Internet. Citizens involved will realize the importance of "intelligent house" systems, the simplicity of use of relative infrastructures (such as a digital TV), while they will participate in pioneering programs of vocational training implemented in national level.
            • Inclusion of enterprises in the electronic state. Trikala will undertake, on behalf of local enterprises, the preparation of proposals to contribute to tenders on ICT projects. The aim of the project is to provide to SMEs all necessary equipment to participate in the e-Trikala project. The project will explore funding opportunities by the Greek Ministries such as the "Go-Online" or the "Wireless Hotspots" projects.
            Conclusions

            The Digital City of Trikala (e-Trikala) will be a global environment for making business or public transactions electronically. The aim of the project is far beyond the installation of all necessary ICT infrastructures. The contribution and participation of all citizens, enterprises and public authorities is expected, in order for local society to move into the Information Society.

            Aspects such as "user friendliness" are treated according to open ICT standards. The main objective is the appearance of the same interface to all citizens and enterprises.

            Security considerations are under investigation, while a discrete VPN architecture for each project appears as the most appropriate solution. Additionally, combinations of PINs and passwords, based on municipal catalogues will authenticate citizens, while PKI authentication will be used by the public executives and authors.

            Privacy perspectives are under investigation too. Since all infrastructures will operate under municipal responsibility privacy must be assured. All "sensitive" individual information will not be available to everyone. While all involved will be informed of the type of personal data that are produced and observed by the systems, sensitive personal data will be produced and kept only with citizen consent.