Austin, community partners look to solve extreme ‘hot spots’ around city

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas and the City of Austin are looking for hot spots around the city. The two groups have launched a study to determine how to best combat excessive heat in urban environments.

In places like the Mueller Development, the walkable space and cooling tree-line canopy entice and interest people to enjoy the outdoors, but not everyone has access.

“One of the disparities we have right now is that it’s hotter in the built environment,” Executive Director of Vamos Austin Carmen Llanes Pulido said.

Pulido operates a non-profit that focuses on breaking down barriers to healthy living in southeast, south and north/central Austin. Her organization is playing a role in the study to help people access green spaces in areas where there’s lots of concrete, pavement and fewer plants.

“What we want to do with this project is get more of a lived experience,” said Marc Coudert with the City of Austin Office of Sustainability.

The project looks at areas where people have fewer resources and are more vulnerable to hot spots — places like the Rundberg and Saint Johns area.

“People think of climate change as something that is just starting to effect us, but these inequities have limited access of basic needs for people for a long time,” said Pulido.

By using satellite data, ground sensors, computer models and neighbor interviews, the researchers will develop heat maps to get a better view of the temperature landscape.

“We want to look at the whole picture, so we don’t want to make any decisions until we talk to the community. We’re making sure we make the right decision,” said Coudert.

The project will run for two-years. The City of Austin says some possible solutions may include planting more trees, preserving more canopies and green spaces or putting shade shelters around Capital Metro bus stops.

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