by Alexia Vlachou
ATHENS, July 22 (Xinhua) -- As Greece was in the grip of the first heat wave of this summer on Sunday with the temperatures rising to 40 degree Celsius in many parts of the mainland, including the capital Athens, a smartphone application was launched with an aim to reduce heat risks, according to the national meteorological agency EMY.
The app Extrema Athens, available now at both Google Play and Apple Store, was launched by the City of Athens in collaboration with Greece's National Observatory.
It can be used for the assessment of personalized heat risk based on one's profile and location in the city.
"The benefit is that you get personalized estimates of your heat risk and then you get advice based on your profile and also the nearest cooling centers and cool locations that you can access on foot when you are in the city," Iphigenia Keramitsoglou, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications and Remote Sensing (IAASARS) of the National Observatory of Athens told Xinhua.
According to the researcher, the data that it is collected in the mobile app stays in the app protecting the personal data of each user.
As a member of the "100 resilient Cities" and "C40" network on climate change, Athens has set a strategy to protect the vulnerable populations of the Greek capital from rising temperatures.
"We now have clear indications that in the next few decades Athens is going to be one of the most burdened cities of Europe in relation to rising temperatures and the municipality of Athens started doing things," Deputy Mayor for Urban Nature, Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation Eleni Myrivili told Xinhua.
But the app is dealing with more than the rising temperatures, but also the cold spells.
"We have partners from Finland and they are working very hard on the effects of cold on health. So, there is going to be an application for a cold spell also that will start this winter," Keramitsoglou said.
The application has also been developed for Paris, Rotterdam and the island of Majorca in Spain, while the technology is expected to expand to more European cities in near future.
"Within the framework of EU co-founded project which is called Extrema we can have demonstration for other cities free of charge within Europe. But we are also open to expand service outside Europe," Keramistoglou explained.
With the mercury rising to 40 degrees, Greek authorities in Athens have decided to take precautions, including the close of the archaeological site of the Acropolis at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
According to the Culture Ministry, the site will also be closing early on Monday to protect staff at the site and visitors from the dangers of heatstroke.