With a bundle of 17 different actions, all related to modern digital technology, the Naxos turns into a Smart Island. Indicatively, test flights of drones have already begun, which are expected to transport biological material and medicines not only between different locations on Naxos, but to and from the nearby islands.
Drones will complement the already established telemedicine system, even saving lives if an emergency occurs. At the same time, different types of drones, equipped with cameras and transmitters, will be used by the Naxos Coast Guard for the immediate control of ongoing incidents in the marine area around the island and at a distance of up to 12 km from the coast. It goes without saying that in cases of maritime accidents, the use of drones can prevent a threatened disaster.
In this regard, the fact that the drones that will be used in the “Naxos, Smart Island” project are of Greek design and manufacture, of heavy military type and with enhanced capabilities, is particularly important. They cope with extreme conditions (in winds of 6-7 Beaufort, gusts up to 12 Beaufort) exceeding the specifications set by NATO for unmanned aerial vehicles of this category. The plan also foresees the upgrading of the island’s port facilities and their adaptation to the standard of the smart marina.
An Internet of Things (IoT)-type circuit is being created on the island by placing, for example, electronic sensors in the parking spaces reserved exclusively for PWDs or Coast Guard vehicles. The waste bins will also be equipped with similar sensors, so that the collection and recycling process can be completely streamlined. The plan even includes the training of the island’s residents in the use of today’s digital tools in order to simplify their relationship with the Greek State and, consequently, achieve an economy in time and energy.
The entire project “Naxos – The next Greek Smart Island” is based on the technical infrastructure offered by Amazon Web Services, which has undertaken the coordination of many other companies (Greek and multinationals, startups, etc.), as well as public bodies involved as partners in the implementation of the project, such as the ministries of Digital Governance, Development, Shipping and Island Policy and the Local Government, with the South Aegean Region and the Municipality of Naxos, etc. Among other things, the project in Naxos is planned from the beginning with the logic of the model, since the broader perspective of the plan is the inclusion of many other Greek regions, island and non-island, in the Smart Island/Smart City category, etc.
Deal Mitsotakis – Bezos
The initial idea for Naxos was discussed in earnest during the informal meeting between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in Antiparos last July. Then, the Greek department of Amazon Web Services (AWS) undertook the investigation of the implementation prospects and now its staff has already completed the design of the architecture for the entire project, a highly sensitive process but also fundamental in terms of further implementation of the project.
Moreover, the operation of most of the planned smart actions in Naxos is based on the services and know-how of AWS – especially in cloud computing technology.
Schematically, the philosophy of the “Naxos, Smart Island” plan is broken down into three pillars:
a) Sustainability, by reducing the energy and environmental burden of the island from the daily activity of locals and tourists.
b) Upgrading the quality of life especially for its permanent residents, through the effective improvement of health and emergency services, communication, transactions, transport, etc.
c) Increasing tourist traffic to Naxos and the Small Cyclades, by attracting visitors as well as digital nomads for long-term or permanent settlement. The flagship project of this pillar is the creation of the smart marina.
Because with a digital application for mobile devices (app), for example, the skipper of a boat will know everything about the port of Naxos, such as if there is space and the possibility of berthing, what kind of facilities are available (service, water, electricity, Internet connection, etc.). That is why the smart marina is considered the first and crucial step for advertising Naxos and more broadly Greece as a completely modern destination, a place where every visitor and for as long as they are there will not feel cut off even for a moment from the rest of the world, de facto limited in his dealings or obligations, personal, social, professional, etc. The short history of the “Naxos, Smart Island” project began last summer with the friendly meeting between Mr. Mitsotakis and Mr. Bezos.
In the company of spouses, partners and famous friends such as Tom Hanks and Diane von Furstenberg, the Greek prime minister and the American croisos discussed, among other things, the possibility of creating a model center of digital culture in the Aegean. In the next phase, last September, the former US ambassador to Greece, Jeffrey Pyatt, had a meeting with the general manager of the European Public Sector of Amazon Web Services, Cameron Brooks, in the presence of the top executives of the Greek department of AWS.
Mr. Pyatt conveyed the concept of “Smart Island”, focusing on AWS’s involvement with drones for various uses around the world: from maintaining wind turbines in remote locations to spraying agricultural crops in various parts of the world. Ultimately, after considering alternative options, AWS concluded that Naxos is the ideal spot in the Greek territory. AWS then began systematic contacts with the Ministries of Digital Governance and Maritime and Island Policy, as well as Deloitte.
This particular company, which operates in a very wide range of business services, proved to be a key factor in accelerating the planning and implementation of the project in Naxos. Because Deloitte had already developed a system for transporting biological material and drugs in Scotland, so it already had the necessary experience to help AWS formulate the right formula for Naxos. Through Deloitte, access was gained to a valuable record of wind behavior in the Aegean, which has been compiled and is updated by the British Navy.
In fact, in this archive there are data on the Greek winds over a period of thirty years. It goes without saying that without detailed data on atmospheric characteristics any design for drones would be in danger of failing miserably. Having ensured that Deloitte would provide the software for the tracking and monitoring of the drones in Naxos -software also created by Greek technicians-, AWS Greece then investigated the current legal framework for the transport of medical and biological material, as well as the appropriate drone provider. In this way, it was confirmed that, at present, only EL.TA has the relevant transport permit. Courier and DHL. But as far as the drones themselves are concerned, the Greek Altus devices were deemed the absolute best choice.
Another Naxos According to the “Naxos, Smart Island” project, around the end of this year and once all the obstacles (legal, technical, etc.) have been resolved, the drones will transport, e.g. medicines in special cases to wherever needed within their flight range. They will probably take off from the roof of the Naxos Hospital and at each destination there will be corresponding landing “shelters” for their unloading and resupply. AWS predicts that initially the drones will be flown with continuous manual control.
In the next stage the operator will simply check if the drone flies without problems on its predetermined route, while at the end the flights will be completely autonomous: any doctor or nurse of the Naxos Hospital will place the drugs or biological material in the transport case and simply gives the command to the drone to perform the route to the respective destination. Thus, people who are in an emergency situation and need immediate administration of a certain substance will be covered within a few minutes by air.
In addition to AWS, Deloitte, Altus and government agencies, the project also involves a group of organizations, both private and non-profit. OTE Academy, he said, has undertaken the training of the island’s residents in digital skills, through lifelong learning programs. Wind is carrying out separate tests, with the prospect of being active in the transport of materials and products with its own drones, while it is considered certain that in the next period – and given the personal interest of the Prime Minister in the progress of the project – Naxos will attract even more partners.
Currently, Amazon Web Services has already proceeded to install the first antenna for the LoRaWAN wireless network. Very different from the robust cellular networks, LoRaWAN is low-noise and exclusively intended to support the Internet of Things. For the circuit of sensors, transceivers, etc. that control the correct use of waste bins and special parking spaces in the port of Naxos. If, for example, someone parks their vehicle in a non-prescribed location, the system will inform those in charge to carry out the relevant control and possibly remove the illegal car.
In a similar way, “smart” waste bins with filling sensors will work, so that garbage trucks do not run pointlessly, consuming fuel and burdening the atmosphere with pollutants. As for the other innovations introduced by the “Naxos, Smart Island” project, the creation of a multi-functional digital hub with all kinds of services and information for tourists, the support of local agricultural and livestock production with drones and digital applications, and even the observation of the microclimate of the island through the collaboration of AWS with the National Research Center for Natural Sciences “Democritos”. More generally, the transformation of Naxos into a Smart Island will be used as a case study for the pending law regarding the status of autonomous drone flights in Greece, which further underlines the importance of the project.