AWS Public Sector Blog

Smart Island: How the AWS Cloud is powering social, economic, and environmental improvements in Greece

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is leading a pilot project to turn the Greek island of Naxos in the Aegean Sea into a smart island. The smart island aspires to offer a better quality of life to its residents, opportunities for local businesses, and an attractive destination for tourists and digital nomads from around the world.

Designed in collaboration with 20 Greek and international companies, the Smart Island project was developed with the support of the Greek government, local authorities, and the US Embassy. The project will leverage advanced AWS Cloud technologies, and will introduce smart solutions for mobility, primary healthcare, and the transport of goods, such as vessel monitoring and reporting from a coastline tower, and the delivery of blood samples and medical supplies via drone. In tandem, existing infrastructure such as the local marina, the energy grid, and water management systems will be upgraded through internet of things (IoT) solutions and smart infrastructure management systems.

Many islands are at the beginning of their digital transformation journey. While lessons can be shared from existing smart city solutions, each island has its own unique challenges and opportunities. Digital technologies enable islands to drive better social, environmental, and economic outcomes for citizens, businesses, and visitors. Smart solutions deliver sustainable local economic development through the optimal use of local resources. They help islanders acquire new skills, increase local participation, and improve their interactions with public authorities.

Due to their geography, islands face several challenges. Often, they are dependent on fossil fuels for energy, bear high transportation and connectivity costs, and have limited economic diversification. However, geography also makes islands ideal laboratories for technological, environmental, and economic innovation. The Smart Island project will act as a test bed for innovative technology that may help other remote communities around the world overcome similar challenges.

Why Naxos?

For the pilot, the island of Naxos was chosen for its size, location, internet connectivity, and potential to take advantage of the full range of benefits of such a project. It is the largest in the Cyclades island complex, home to 22,000 residents year-round and welcomes more than 130,000 tourists during the summer.

The island experiences many of the challenges faced by other Greek islands. The limited transportation options to Chora, the island’s main settlement, presents problems such as limited access to health services. The island’s infrastructure, like the road network, the local marina, parking lots, water supply, waste management, and power generation, can struggle to meet demands, especially during the summer. The geography of Naxos and Small Cyclades—a cluster of four small islands—is an ideal scenario for experimenting with technological solutions that entail transferring goods over the sea.

Smart Island’s solutions and infrastructure

Smart Island introduces solutions for mobility, primary healthcare, and transport of goods—running on the AWS Cloud—while ‘smartening’ existing infrastructure, such as tourist ports, the energy grid, waste, and water management. At the same time, public officials, civil servants, and residents will be offered tailor-made training to improve their digital skills to take advantage of the new opportunities the technology presents.

The project’s solutions and infrastructure have been developed based on four pillars: sustainability, telehealth, leisure, and digital skills.

Initiatives being explored under these pillars include:

Solutions ‘smartening’ existing infrastructure, such as the Naxos marina, using advanced IoT technologies and sensors that make infrastructure more resilient, efficient, and environmentally friendly.

Solutions for mobility, such as smart taxi payments, smart parking sensors, and electric vehicle chargers.

Vessel monitoring and reporting from a coastline tower, which facilitates the work of port authorities, enabling accurate vessel tracking and modernizing the existing non-digital model. This improves shipping and transportation logistics and makes available a wealth of data for passengers and local businesses.

Solutions for primary healthcare, such as blood sample and medical supplies transfer via drone between Naxos and other small Cyclades islands, and a telemedicine service connecting patients to specialized doctors at a distance.

Tailored digital training for public officials, civil servants, and residents of the South Aegean region, giving them the opportunity to improve their digital and cloud skills and take advantage of the new opportunities that technology offers.

An online booking system for citizen services, as well as for museums and other local attractions, that can also act as a one-stop-shop for information, like opening hours, closest pharmacies, and markets, to enhance the overall visitor experience.

Greece has set ambitious targets and is moving fast with its digital transformation. With projects such as Smart Island, AWS seeks to be part of the major effort that is underway, providing tools and solutions for the digital transformation of the state, cities, and enterprises—large and small—in the years to come.

The Naxos Smart Island project will be built around the AWS Smart Territory Framework, which combines AWS services with the global industry standards and open source offerings of the FIWARE ecosystem. This will maximize benefits for the citizens of Naxos by allowing non-personally identifiable information (PII) data to be securely and simply shared between government departments and external organizations.

The project was developed with the support of the Greek government, the South Aegean Region, and the Municipality of Naxos and Small Cyclades. The organisations involved with the project include: Aegean Neorion Center, Altus LSA, Cisco, Cyclades Chamber of Commerce, CyTech, Deloitte, eFood, ELTA, Eunice Energy Group, Eurobank, Hellenic Space Center, Greek Manpower Organization (DYPA), IoTech, Lambda Automata, National Centre of Scientific Research Demokritos, Network of Sustainable Greek Islands (DAFNI), Nova, Onex Technologies, OTE Academy, SaMMy, Sparkworks, Travelotopos, and Vodafone.

Read more about how AWS supports smart territory initiatives. Contact the Smart Island team to learn more about the smart island project. Read more about Smart Island concept in ‘From Smart Cities to Smart Islands – framework on creating a Smart and Sustainable Island strategy by IDC.’

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