How Small Cities Can Prepare for Extreme Heat

Without the resources of larger cities, towns with fewer resources can still work to coordinate efforts across agencies and plan for heat events early in the year.

1 minute read

June 1, 2023, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


How can small towns that lack the resources of bigger cities prepare their agencies and residents to prepare for and respond to extreme heat events? Ysabelle Kempe explores the issue in Smart Cities Dive.

While some cities such as Phoenix and Houston have hired Chief Heat Officers tasked with leading cross-departmental efforts to address extreme heat events, others don’t have the funding to do so. In an interview with Smart Cities Dive, Ladd Keith, assistant professor of planning and sustainable built environments at the University of Arizona, said “Because heat is a relatively new climate risk compared to other climate risks, it’s not surprising at all to see that a couple silver bullet strategies have emerged because when you first learned about something, your knowledge is really limited.”

For Keith, one key strategy is coordination between various city and county departments, whether or not the city is able to hire a full-time climate or heat officer. For now, “I think where we’ve ended up is a lot of urban forestry efforts and a lot of focus on cooling centers.” Keith also recommends year-round planning for summer operations. “It’s not great to plan for cooling centers when it’s already hot and when it’s already summer because you’re going to have a little bit less effective coordination and missed opportunities with that.”

Wednesday, May 31, 2023 in Smart Cities Dive

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