Smarter Cities Team Athens has been on the ground working and getting to know this amazing city for almost a week. I originally wanted to post something earlier, but was so engrossed getting to know the team and meeting with our wonderful hosts that I just didn’t get around to it. I’m joined by five extremely talented IBMers: Angela Borrachero Mendibil, Piyush Malik, Scott Neuman, Todd Appel, and Una Du Noyer. I can’t go without mentioning our *favorite* IBM Greece colleagues, Polyxeni Zoppas and Evangelia Lampaki, who tirelessly take us from meeting to meeting, translate for us when needed and ensure we have everything we need to serve the City of Athens during our three weeks here.
Our week started with an introduction to the IBM Greece leadership team and then we were off for an informal walking tour of the historical and commercial center of Athens with the Deputy Mayor of Municipal Police and Sustainable Mobility, Mr. Antonis Kafetzopoulos. Mr. Kafetzopoulis is an extraordinary host with an intimate knowledge of the area. His sense of humor and popularity with the people gave us unique perspective. I couldn’t believe the number of inviting cafes, bars, restaurants and shops that were all thriving and bustling with activity. We made plans to “check everything out” on practically every street corner.
After some more meetings and touring, we planned for our formal introduction with the Mayor, Mr. George Kaminis on Tuesday. At this event, the Mayor announced the Smarter Cities Challenge program to his constituents and the various stakeholders who have a vested interest in the pedestrian area within the historical and commercial center of the city. It was fascinating to listen to them describe their perspectives and views on the challenges of traffic congestion and parking in the area. After the kickoff meeting we started right away with our stakeholder meetings and have been busy since then getting to know the municipal leaders, departments, and associations around town.
Of course, I can’t travel anywhere without talking about the food! We hit the jackpot in Athens with amazing cuisine and local specialties with an endless array of choices. The fresh salads, vegetables, meats and Grecian wine have all been wonderful, especially the ouzo!