UNMC, community volunteers to map heat inequities in Omaha this summer

Extreme heat kills more Americans than any other weather event, but not everyone’s risk is the same. This summer, the University of Nebraska Medical Center and community scientists will map the hottest parts of Omaha.

To map urban heat islands — areas that can be up to 20 degrees hotter than nearby neighborhoods — and collect the data necessary to protect disproportionately affected communities, the UNMC College of Public Health, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Program Office, the interagency National Integrated Heat Health Information System and CAPA Strategies LLC  are launching new, community-led campaigns this summer in Omaha. Omaha is one of 14 U.S. cities participating in the 2022 Heat Mapping Campaign this summer.  

Some neighborhoods can be much hotter than other parts of the same city, and — due in part to historical segregation efforts, through denial of home loans and other policies, designed to keep people of color out of certain communities — these hot spots are often home to poorer communities of color. UNMC will conduct an "Urban Heat Island" mapping campaign in the summer of 2022 to compare heat distribution in historically segregated boundaries to non-redlined neighborhoods of Omaha.

The heat campaign mapping will use the framing of historically redlined areas in Omaha to examine the incidence of the urban heat island. This summer, UNMC plans to recruit volunteers to drive and bicycle around the city of Omaha with weather sensors.

Using heat sensors mounted on their own cars or bikes, volunteers, led by UNMC, will traverse their neighborhoods in the morning, afternoon and evening on one hot, calm and rain-free days this summer. The sensors record temperature, humidity, time and the volunteers’ location each second. 

Cities from past campaigns have used their heat island maps to develop heat action plans, add cooling stations to bus shelters, educate residents and policymakers and inform new research. 

To both stay informed and get involved with the Omaha summer 2022 campaigns, subscribe to the Heat Beat Newsletter, check out the University of Nebraska Medical Center website, or follow #OmahaUrbanHeatMaps2022 on social media. UNMC College of Public Health: https://www.facebook.com/cophunmchttps://twitter.com/UNMCCOPH; UNMC Facebook https://www.facebook.com/unmcedu; UNMC Twitter https://twitter.com/unmc; UNMC Instagram https://www.instagram.com/iamunmc/

For more information and to volunteer, contact the Omaha 2022 campaign team at UNMC for more information: Abdoulaye Abdoulaziz: abdoulaye.abdoulaziz@unmc.edu or Jesse Bell, PhD: jesse.bell@unmc.edu

We are Nebraska Medicine and UNMC. Our mission is to lead the world in transforming lives to create a healthy future for all individuals and communities through premier educational programs, innovative research and extraordinary patient care. 

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