YT just returned from a round trip around Greece for MAZI-kickoff meetings. Starting out in Thessaloníki for a couple of days to acclimatise and explore the city on foot, caught the bus with Mark Gaved (Open University) south to Volos.
On the eve of the sessions we joined the other consortium partners for first of many lovely feasts in the re-animated service quarter adjacent the port and marina, where we all enjoyed first principals of Volos catering; drink tsipouro and eventually great food arrives at the table, keep drinking and the selection and frequency increases! Great social exchange and a wealth of information and insight on these new relationships was gathered and a sense of fun and inquisitiveness established.
Our meetings at University of Thessaloníki set out to unpack the many layered project package of the successful bid to EU. Ahead are three years research, application and monitoring of MAZI toolkit development, which begin in earnest now. Their Nitos lab offers a grand facility for prototyping and testing a wide range of sensor components, wireless options and engineering of suitable interfaces we will need for the successful establishment of the MAZI toolkit at the pilot sites in Berlin, Deptford, Zurich and in the wild from Athens to Edinburgh.
Partners introduced their respective organisations, listened to each others proposals and considered the scope of collaboration together. We examined how to begin the processes of examination and annotation to best serve the needs of wider public communication and consultation with one another throughout the project. This intensive and somewhat testing experience, articulated some gaps in our assumptions and reinforced the sense of confidence and enthusiasm in one another for the tasks set.
Those left standing continued on to a trip up the Olympian mountains in central Greece, a unique opportunity to visit community wireless project Sarantaporo.gr. We met it’s key protagonists and heard first hand, from locals about their hopes and fears for the future. Improvements in the interlinking of settlements has already animated relations and revealed more ancient rivalries of village life. The children and more specifically grandchildren of longest lived residents are the most enthusiastic adopters of the new services in place, now much more willing to visit from nearby towns and cities than ever. Further promotion of mountain existence and wider expansion of the impressively well distributed quality broadband is underway. . Quality broadband access has been granted by regional university in Larissa and the project has already delivered to eleven of the many dislocated villages. Population depletion of recent decades now shows strong signs of reversal as a consequence of economic turmoil and these homegrown successes. The sense of goodwill and courage demonstrated was an inspiration and energis for the MAZI we now embark on together.