Monitoring a port city

The Municipality of Piraeus has acquired a system designed by the National Technical University (NTU) to monitor changes in the area and test the effectiveness of policies it wants to implement. The system, a valuable tool for planning development policy, will serve as an urban monitor that will track, analyze and evaluate changes in Piraeus. Recording change And there have been many changes in the past few years in Greece’s largest port. Heavy industry and traditional activities such as ship repair yards have declined. Factories have given way to stores, and dynamic new companies in areas such as manufacturing and machinery repair have sprung up. Jobs have declined in local trades such as timber, clothing and footwear, but there is still demand for computer technicians and administrative staff. Though Pireaus’s urban enclaves have diminished, the municipality has upgraded its housing stock. Many migrants have also moved to the city, continuing a trend seen in the rest of Greece. «Until now, there has not been a system that helped municipalities track these changes,» says Prof. Eliza Panayiotatou, scientific chief of the urban monitor. «Yet creating suitable infrastructure and organization should have been a priority so that [the municipality] can undertake a modern developmental role, tackle problems and support the public.» A team from the NTU’s town-planning department worked with Piraeus Mayor Christos Agrapidis to design a flexible system that offers vital information about local changes, such as the desertion of commercial and residential areas and population movements. «In other words this system counts the unemployed, shows which are the dynamic elements in the market, where there is decline and where there are new opportunities,» Panayiotatou says.