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Report from ISS-EWATUS First Final Event, 1-2.09.2016, Skiathos, Greece
by Gajos-Gržetić Małgorzata - Friday, 23 September 2016, 10:29 PM
 

1. Summary of Event

The first out of the two final events planned for the ISS-EWATUS project was held with great success in Skiathos Island on Sept. 1st and 2nd. The event was organized with the collaboration of the two Greek partners: CERTH and DEYASK. The choice of the event location was decided on the basis of the location of the project pilot. The two events are held in the project pilot locations in order to involve the local communities as much as possible and to extend beyond the municipality to regional, national and international level. The primary goal of the conference was to get the attention and secure the participation and support of Greek authorities at all levels, as well as the participation of other Greek water utilities. A large media campaign was organized beforehand with local TV stations covering project results and inviting the public to the event. A short video-commercial spot that covered the significance of water and energy savings in the household was played for weeks on local TV channels to prepare the local community. DEYASK officials gave multiple interviews to local reporters explaining what the project and the event was all about, announcing project partners and invited speakers that will come to the island for the event and inviting the public to participate.

The agenda included presentations from all work packages relating to the successful implementation of the project, while emphasis was given to the Skiathos case study and the benefits of the project for the local community and Greek water utilities in general, which gain an invaluable know-how on new technologies being introduced in the urban water sector. The event was accompanied by salutation of many official guests, especially from several Greek authorities, internationally recognized researchers on water management topics and representatives from other ICT4WATER European projects. Great impression on project partners did the number of guests and the participants, as well as the good organization of the conference and various excursions organized by DEYASK and CERTH for the participants to discover the beauty of the island. A large team of over 10 students and staff were available at the registration desk to ensure the smooth flow of the event, while personal airport pick-ups were arranged for almost all guests coming from abroad.

Folders and posters with project logo were printed for the event, as well as specialized notebooks and pens, while fridge magnets and 3-language (Polish, Greek and English) calendars were shipped from the coordinator for the event and were passed to guests during registration, together with their name badges. Gift bags were also given to all event participants with island delicacies, such as organic honey, olive oil from the local monastery, an exclusive cosmetic soap with donkey milk and local sweets. DEYASK presented the campaign they conducted to hoteliers in the island with printed signs containing messages for hotel guests to save water and 10-minute bathroom hourglasses that invite tourists to limit shower time. The printed signs and hourglasses with project logo were also given to all event participants.

Initially the issues of the project were discussed among the coordinator university representatives and the rest of the partners. Each one of the partners had a separate presentation of the advances succeeded relatively to their assigned work packages and towards the completion of the project. Then various salutations by the mayor of Skiathos Island, the Governor of the Region of Thessaly, the President of all Greek public water utilities of Greece and mayor of Rethymno, Crete, the president and the executive director of Skiathos water utility and the CERTH partner group leader. During the 2nd day of the event, keynote presentations included the Dr. Sambit Sahu’s (Manager and Research Scientist IBM T.J. Watson Research, New York, USA) presentation on IBM intelligent water solutions, the International Water Association representative for water loss Task Force that talked about the application of advanced techniques and methodologies in water distribution networks for leakage reduction and various representatives from other ICT4WATER groups (WISDOM, KINDRA and FREEWAT) as well as the coordinator of the EIP Water Action Group Ctrl+SWAN.

One day prior to the event and also the day that followed the end of the conference, a boat cruise was organized for the visitors to explore remote beaches of Skiathos. The conference was held in one of the famous hotels of Skiathos, the Skiathos Palace, which organized nice lunches for the participants and a hearty gala dinner that included live music and Greek dancing. All event participants and their family members were invited to eat for free on all meals. Furthermore, at the end of the second day, there was a visit to a local monastery and a visit to the “Traite de Rome” sailing boat, a famous sailing boat that was named after the founding document for the European Union in 1957, a boat that is famous in Europe for winning many races and doing the round of the world twice.    

2. Issues

Despite the fact that there were a great number of participants in the conference, all talks were given on time as scheduled and there was real-time translation to cover the needs for English and Greek presentations. Experienced translators from Brussels were hired for this purpose and all relevant equipment was rented for the duration of the event.

3. Marketing/Promotion

CERTH and especially DEYASK had devoted a great effort in promoting this event. Apart from several posts in in the most popular social media, the vice-president of Skiathos public water authority has raised the importance of this conference in accordance to the collective effort made by DEYASK in the local TV channels and newspapers. DEYASK has also produced a nice TV-spot that lures the viewers to spend less water to save money from their water bill.

4. Targets

The most important targets of the event were all met. Firstly, the Mayor of the Skiathos Island and the DEYASK water public utility fully sponsored the event. The presence of the Regional Governor of Thessaly, who addressed the participants and stayed through the night even at the gala dinner was a great success and indicated the interest of the authorities in ISS-EWATUS. Secondly, the turnout was unprecedented for such specificity conference. There were almost 100 participants from the majority of the European countries and the USA. The impact made this conference to the residents of Skiathos has certainly helped positively the major goal i.e. the optimum water management, the reduction of water distribution network leakage and to raise awareness of the local community relatively to water conservation. Furthermore there was a great participation of the water utility staff and a great opportunity for them to (a) stand with the water community to influence government regulations and legislation, (b) learn about issues before they become full-blown crises, (c) provide professional development opportunities to other staff members and (d) improve their day-to-day operations.

 

Some photos of the president and the executive director of Skiathos water utility, the CERTH partner group leader Prof. Laspidou and other representatives.