Heat Mapping Impacts
The data and reports from Heat Watch campaigns have informed city sustainability plans, public health practices, urban forestry efforts, research projects, and other engagement activities. As an example, Vivek shared the story of a heat mapping campaign in Yonkers, New York.
CAPA Strategies provided high school volunteers with FLIR thermal cameras that attached to their phones and tasked students with taking pictures of the hottest and coolest places they could find. It became clear some neighborhoods had less shade, fewer trees, and much higher temperatures than others.
With photos and data in hand, volunteers demonstrated the inequitable shade and heat across their neighborhoods to the city council. They also showed how this imbalance had grown out of historic redlining practices. In the face of passionate advocacy and empirical reports, the city council eventually agreed to commit tens of millions towards planning and implementation of additional greenspace in hotter neighborhoods.
This is one story in a growing trend. Urban heat is becoming one of the most effective catalysts for urban forestry initiatives. An uncomfortably hot neighborhood is visceral, and so is the relief offered by greenspace. Connecting the real experience of the people with data is a potent combination for change.