3,089,698 inhabitants
surface area: 396 km2

Capital & largest city of Greece surrounded by 4 mountains.

Climate: warm/dry summers & wet/mild winters


Which pressures?

Air Quality  and  Health                                           Disasters                                            Urban Growth and  Migration 



Environmental pressures targeted by SMURBS

 Air Quality: Despite the improvement in air quality conditions during the last decades, ventilation of the Athens’ basin is frequently poor and air pollution levels can rise considerably. Important present sources of air pollution in Athens include road transport and biomass burning. Each day, nearly 2.8 million vehicles operate within city limits, the vast majority of which (2.5 million) are gasoline-fueled passenger cars. Moreover, although oil was predominantly used for residential heating prior to 2010, the economic recession gave rise to the use of wood-burning, leading to intense wintertime smog episodes. Violations of the EU standards are still recorded for O3, NO2 and PM10.

 Health: Lately, attention has shifted to focus on new pollutants with potentially increased health risks, including the fine fraction of particulate matter (e.g. PM1), specific aerosol components (e.g. Black Carbon, BC), PAHs, metals, reactive oxygen species and other toxic elements. In the densely populated area of Athens, the identification of the complex and uncertain linkage between these pollutants and health symptoms/diseases is a prerequisite for the analysis of possible mitigation scenarios.

 DisastersThroughout the whole Attica region, flood events are common after heavy rainfall both inside the urban network and peri-urban areas. On 15 November 2017, an unprecedented flood event affected the areas of Mandra and Nea Peramos in the western part of Attica, resulting in24 human casualties and great loss to infrastructure and other assets. Coordination and planning is necessary for better preparedness in the future, especially when such phenomena are expected to be more frequent due to ongoing climate change.

 Migration: During the last decade, Greece has dealt with the accommodation and integration of large numbers of migrants. The evaluation of the existing migration hot-spots and refugee camps has been identified as a major domain where EO could contribute greatly. Combining over-population and potential environmental threats signifies the extent of the pressure, thus making EO-based assessments (risk-assessments for disasters and overall health/living conditions aspect) mandatory.

Urban Growth: As in all high-density cities, energy need and consumption is high in Athens. The energy demand for buildings and residences increases proportionally with urbanization. Along this line, the penetration of renewables and in specific, solar energy exploitation at the urban scale, can definitely counteract such trends. In confirmation, this has been recognized as a priority in the Greek National Plan for Energy and Climate.



The implementation of smart urban solutions

 Air Quality: SMURBS’ approach combines different components to be developed and tested in Athens. An integrated network for Air Quality monitoring comprised of low and mid-cost sensors (collaboration with EMISSION national project), as well as state-of-the-art in-situ supersites (ACTRIS), enable the provision of publicly available, near real-time data, for a variety of pollutants. Further localized and personalized information for citizens is promoted through NFC-tags located in high volume locations, supported by the DiscovAIR mobile application (also available on a web platform). Further, the app includes forecasts of Air Quality provided by the Copernicus Atmospheric Modeling Service (CAMS) to aid citizen and tourist planning and for exposure avoidance. Users own perception of Air Quality is also collected in an interactive manner. Finally, detailed spatial disaggregation of emissions and visualization of Air Quality is achieved through intra-urban Air Quality modelling (at the city-scale with a resolution of 100 x100 m), providing decision-makers and local stakeholders with tools to elucidate exposure differences within a city and support further urban planning that protects AQ.

 Health: The WHO AirQ+ risk assessment tool has been applied in Athens, in which air pollutant concentrations and basic population information is used along with risk estimates from cohort studies to calculate the health effects of long- and short-term exposure to air pollution. In addition, a platform has been developed to calculate and provide the daily values of two thermal indices, PET (Physiologically Equivalent Temperature) and Climate-Tourism-Information-Scheme (CTIS), enabling stakeholders to interpret the intensity of the thermophysiological stress of citizens and examine the impacts on mortality.

 DisastersBuilding on the BEYOND Center of Excellence application “Floodhub, ”SMURBS has additionally incorporated crowdsourced flood relevant data. The resulting app, Floodhub+, is a web-based GIS platform that monitors flood events in urban and peri-urban areas and provides further analysis on the flood extent to inform an early warning system and produce a flood risk assessment, responding directly to the EU Floods Directive. In addition, an operational modeling tool for industrial accidents has been developed (Industrial Accident Dispersion, ILiAD), which forecasts particle and gas dispersion in the atmosphere as a result of direct emission from an ongoing event. A web-based interface allows scientists and decision-makers to perform emergency and risk assessment operations, in real-time or with pre-disaster scenarios.

MigrationSMURBS delivers a multiple natural hazards risk assessment mapping, including first response (access & evacuation) and mitigation measures analysis, for the migrant accommodation facility in Ritsona, which is the biggest mainland refugee camp in Greece, located in just a 1-hours distance from Athens.

Urban Growth: The solar energy potential is estimated in real-time and in high spatial and temporal resolution (100 m and 15 minutes, respectively) with the SOLEATHENS operational application for the urban and peri-urban areas of Athens. This smart urban solution uses a synergy of radiative transfer models, machine learning computing architectures and input data from satellites (e.g. Meteosat, Sentinels) and models (Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service). It allows for online energy management and planning in support of the penetration of renewables in smart cities, especially Photovoltaics.



Partners involved in the design and implementation of the solutions



Stakeholders involved: 

Region of Attica

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

National GEO office

Space Hellas S.A.

Port of Piraeus



Independent Power Transmission Operator (ΑΔΜΗΕ)