Agnès Buzyn, minister of health in France, had a radio interview this Sunday in which she discussed the consequences that heat events had on the French population this summer.
France recorded its highest-ever temperature of 46º C (114.8 ºF) this June. During this summer season 1435 deaths were recorded caused by this phenomenon.
This represents an increase of 1000 deaths over the annual average for the time of the year. Moreover, more than half of the affected people were citizens over the age of 75. Additionally, 10 people passed while at work.
France’s first heatwave, from June 24th to July 7th, took 567 lives. Furthermore, 868 people died during the second heat wave from July 21st to the 27th.
The minister of health noted, however, that this event represented fewer deaths than the heat wave in 2003 which claimed 15,000 lives. Thanks to this past event, the government was able to take measures in order to protect citizens. Maintaining open public pools and green areas open for people to be able to cool down is one example. Many workplaces implemented home office days during these heat events to protect their workers as well.
This an example of how extreme events are increasing in intensity and also affecting the population. Although precautions taken helped reduce the number of fatalities, cities need to take more serious and long term measures. It is important to not only protect people when heat events present themselves but to create city resilience. Cities need to to reduce the overall amount and intensity of heat events.
Taking immediate action to create more sustainable and resilient cities is highly important in the face of a rapidly developing global climate crisis.
We are excited to announce that ECOTEN Urban Comfort will be participating on the SMART CITY Expo World Congress 2019.
CITIES MADE OF DREAMS
The SMART CITY Expo World Congress is the leading international event for the smart city sector. It is a key meeting point for experts and leaders of the world’s most innovative cities, companies, research centers and international organizations. Over 25,000 professional visitors are expected, with over 1,000 exhibitors, along with high level representatives from more than 700 cities and over 400 international speakers that will share their vision on how to build a more sustainable and livable urban future.
This year the event will focus on the five main tracks touching the most pressing issues facing cities: Digital Transformation, Urban Environment, Mobility, Governance & Finance and Inclusive & Sharing Cities.
ECOTEN Urban Comfort will take part on this year’s edition as a proud exhibitor on the Urban Environment track. We look forward to present our innovative tools and meet new inspiring people that are willing to partner with us to create a better world and take #ClimateAction to protect our environment and citizens all around the world.
The Czech start-up ECOTEN created a temperature map of Vienna, which shows the ten most affected places by heat, in which also live a large proportion of seniors and children. Problematic areas with a lack of greenery are mostly located in the Vienna districts near the center. The city will now use the map to plan changes.
The temperature map shows areas where it is both warmest and least green as well as were is the most concentration of children and seniors. This new finding will help Vienna deploy appropriate measures for the affected population.
“By knowing exactly where we should intervene now, we can take quick, short-term measures while planning in the long run. We’ll consider where trees will be planted, benches built, facades greened, water playgrounds built, and traffic reduced to ensure that the neighborhood gets cool overall, ”explains Birgit Hebein, Green Deputy Mayor and Vienna Environment Councilor.
Asphalt and concrete absorb heat, which often stays in the streets overnight. As a result, people have difficulty falling asleep and do not get enough rest during their sleep. This affects people who live in places with little or almost no public access to water or green areas such as parks, green courtyards or swimming pools.
The number of heat days is increasing
The risk of rising heat in Vienna today is much higher than ever because of the climate crisis. During heat days the temperature rises above 30 degrees Celsius. Between 1981 and 1990, an average of 15.2 heat days per year were recorded in Vienna. From the beginning of 2019 to June there were already 12 of them. By 2050, temperature is forecasted to increase by 8 degrees.
How did the map originate?
ECOTEN used satellite imaging technology and a geographic information system to store, manage and analyze spatial data to collect data and create a temperature map. Not surprisingly, the most affected areas are the densely built central parts of Vienna in the Favoriten, Ottakring, Landstraße and Margareten districts.
A recent article from Euro talks all about the company’s work with the city of Vienna to fight Urban Heat Islands.
The Czech company ECOTEN created a temperature map of Vienna. By order of the Austrian metropolis, the company found out which parts of the city were the hottest in the summer and what was the population composition in those localities. The company intends to offer this product to other European cities in order to help mitigate the Urban Heat Island effect.
The Vienna City Hall was impressed by the thermo-mapping technology developed by the Czech company ECOTEN. After several months of cooperation, the Viennese councilors already know where the heat points of the capital are located. The City of Vienna is looking use these results to ensure that the temperature during hot summer days does not reach extreme values in places where there is a high proportion of seniors or young children among residents.
“The enormous heat is burdening all Viennese citizens, however children and elderly people who are often no longer leaving their flats are particularly at risk“, said planning councilor Birgit Hebein, who initiated the project. According to her, each age group needs something different for the successful survival of hot days.
“Where a lot of old people live, enough shade, benches and a chance to cool down are needed. Where many children live, playgrounds with water features are suitable” Hebeinová told ORF Vienna Radio.
Not surprisingly, the hottest parts of Vienna are located in dense developments near the center. The ‚hot islands‘ are the Ottakring and Margareten districts. Altogether, ECOTEN in Vienna has identified ten areas with extreme temperatures. These areas have a lack of greenery in common. A total of 20,000 children under 14 years of age and 27,000 people over 65 live in these areas.
For ECOTEN this is the first of such order. The company established cooperation with the Austrian metropolis at the end of last year.
“In October 2018, I attended the Climathon event in Vienna, where I first presented my map of urban vulnerability to heat in response to the ‚Hot spots in the city‘ challenge, which then took the Vienna City Energy Planning Department. Then we started to work on a supplier basis to develop a map for Vienna, ”says Sagnik Bhattacharjee, who is behind the idea of developing city temperature maps and was responsible for the ECOTEN project in Vienna.
The company used satellite imaging technology and geographic information system, which is a program that allows to store, manage and analyze spatial data.
The study created by the Czech company is intended to help Vienna to avert the progressive climate change, which is very much affected by cities. „We already have a study that says that by 2050 our city will warm up to eight degrees,“ Hebein said. Therefore, action needs to be taken quickly.
ECOTEN is a consulting company specializing in energy, environmental and management consulting. Its core activities are energy studies and audits or energy performance certificates. As Bhattacharjee said, the company has been working on the topic of temperature maps for about a year. He is currently preparing proposals to reach out to other European cities to fight the Urban Heat Island Effect.
The municipality of Vienna teamed up with ECOTEN Urban Comfort to show the hottest neighborhoods in the city.
„Heat events put pressure on all people in Vienna, especially children and old people who no longer leave their homes and sometimes live alone,“ says green planning councilor Birgit Hebein, who initiated the project. The heat maps were created on behalf of the city of Vienna by the Czech start-up ECOTEN and show the hottest neighborhoods within the cities as well as density of vulnerable population in order to enable need-based urban planning.
Different age groups need different services in order to get through heat events in the best way. According to Hebein on Radio Wien: „Where a lot of old people live, shading, benches and cooling is needed, while water play areas may be needed for areas where children live“.
Favorites, Ottakring and Margaret are hot spots.
The map illustrates the most vulnerable areas to heat events within the city. Orange-red areas mark areas with particularly high measured temperatures. In total ten heat vulnerable areas have been identified and they are mainly located in Ottakring and Margareten. According to the evaluation there is little vegetation there and around 20,000 children under 14 years of age live there as well as around 27,000 people older to 65 years. The map also shows that even in less urban areas of the municipality heat points are likely to appear
According to the city, the analysis will help defuse the heat hotspots and to counteract the climate crisis in the short and long term in urban planning. „We now have a study at the table saying that by 2050, our city will heat up to eight degrees,“ said Hebein. Therefore, swift action is necessary.
Ten heat days per year until the 1990s, 19 heat days in the future…
On hot days, the temperature generally rises above 30 degrees. According to the Viennese state statistics, between 1961 and 1990 Vienna experienced an average of 9.6 heat days per year, however that number rose. From 1981 to 2010 there were an average of 15.2 heat days per year, and this year there where 12 days of heat up until June. According to forecasts, there will be an average of 19 hot days between 2021 and 2050, and 41 even between 2071 and 2100. Measures need to be taken in order to protect population from the consequences of these heat events.
The CESB 2019 was my first official conference experience. During this event I had the opportunity to present the work that I had been doing for the past year. This journey unexpectedly began while having a casual chat with a friend from my graduate school Ecole Centrale de Nantes France, Federica.
Federica and I had to do a research project as part of our master’s degree and in this project, we discovered a common passion for urban issues. After graduation, we split to pursue our own professional goals, but we kept in touch to share our experiences in this field. During one of these exchanges I was sharing the techniques of satellite imagery for spatial analysis of urban areas with her when I stumbled upon an issue which I had never realized before.
Satellite imagery can be used to make urban heat maps which can identify the hotspots over any given area in the earth at a given time. NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite has been equipped with a TIR sensor to detect thermal radiation from the earth’s surface which can be used to identify the hot spots on the surface. Over urban areas, it is an incredibly useful technique to detect the urban heat island phenomena where the urban areas are observed to be hotter than its surrounding areas.
While presenting this technique to Federica, followed by further discussions, I realized that this information of the identification of physical hotspots within the city is not complete for having any real meaning in the process of urban planning. It was entirely possible that the hotspots are located in areas where people are not usually residing. I wondered then if there was a possibility to include the data for the population distribution across the city and correlate that with the satellite data for heat distribution across the city. Such correlation can help identify which areas the people are most vulnerable to the urban heat island effect.
As an engineer, I decided to undertake this project to find such correlation in order to mitigate the issues related to the urban heat maps. I poured myself to the decades of work done by researchers across the globe to solve this issue. To no surprise, I discovered that this issue was well known among the scientific community. After all, extreme heat has been a subject of topic for the scientific community for decades thanks to the big impacts of climate change especially in cities. The IPCC has provided the world with a framework to assess the vulnerability to climate change. This framework implies that vulnerability, defined as the propensity to be affected by climate change, is a function of three components:
Exposure, defined as the direct dangers of climate change impact.
Sensitivity, defined as the strength of human reaction to climate change impact.
Adaptive capacity, defined as the ability to cope, recover and adjust to climate change impacts.
There was no doubt in my mind that the extreme heat events that the dramatic increase in the scale of impact of the urban heat island phenomenon is linked to the impacts of climate change impacts in cities.
Thus, I decided to employ this framework to assess the vulnerability to extreme heat in cities. With the help of Federica, who was so kind to provide me with the open data of the population distribution across the districts of her city, which is Milan, Italy, I set course to create what I would call in the future as the “urban heat vulnerability map” for Milan, Italy. During this time, I also had the opportunity to collaborate with Ekaterina, a young intern from Saint Petersburg, Russia who had come all the way to Prague, Czech Republic for an exchange program in the civil engineering faculty of the Czech Technical University. We joined forces, along with the support from Federica, to produce our first urban heat vulnerability map of Milan, Italy. I must admit, as none of us had any real experience in private research activities such as this one, it was quite nerve-wracking experience in the beginning.
We studied the past literature on this subject very carefully and with all the wisdom of the great scientists, engineers and researchers who had dedicated their lives to the assessment of the impacts of climate change in cities, we succeeded to produce a series of maps which showed very interesting results. Unlike the urban heat maps that we had been using to identify the urban heat islands in cities, these new maps showed us very different results.
Unlike the indications of urban heat maps (where the hottest places in the city were located in the very center) the urban heat vulnerability map, while taking into account the population distribution of the city as well as other aspects such as vegetation, building quality and health care accessibility, showed that it was in fact the areas in the vicinity of the central part of the city which deserves attention from the urban planners and stakeholders. This made perfect sense as the central part of the city was in fact the most touristic area of the city, home to the famous Duomo di Milano. As in many other cities, city dwellers don’t usually like to live in the touristic areas. Therefore they tend to live in the near vicinity of the city and that is where efforts from urban planners and stakeholders need to focus in order to provide resilience to extreme heat. Encouraged by this finding, I had decided that it needed to be presented to the other members of my company who were also working with finding solutions to extreme heat events in cities.
The response to the results from the urban heat vulnerability maps of Milan, Italy was thrilling. We realized that we needed to present these results to a much wider scientific community and the only places to do so were the scientific conferences where scientists and researchers come together to present and discuss their work and also exchange views from like-minded people from across the globe. We found out the CESB 2019 was just along the horizon so me and my team didn’t waste any time and submitted our work as a publication to be peer-reviewed by a scientific panel. Once they had accepted our paper to be a part of the CESB 2019, we prepared ourselves to present it in the conference directly.
In the conference, we received very interesting feedbacks along with motivation to press on into this venture to reach the boundaries of the scientific world for the assessment of the impacts of climate change impacts in urban areas. Several researchers had expressed their interests to support our project and this was a huge encouragement for me as well as my teammates to continue to find smart solutions the ever-increasing problem of climate change.
On June 25th, ECOTEN Urban Comfort took part in the European Urban Resilience Forum held in Bonn (Germany) organized by the ICLEI resilient cities, where a community or urban resilience actors had gathered to exchange new urban tendencies to adapt overheating cities and prepare for increasing heatwaves. Coincidentally the forum took place just as Europe was being hit by a heatwave which gave decision makers an emotional response to the need of more urban resilience. Time to take action!
Cities remain at the foundation of our societies and the need for their adaptation to climate issues is particularly important in the redefinition of sustainable roots to live better within urban areas. These climate challenges are especially focused on heat related hazard which have a dramatic impact on the health and safety of the urban population.
Solutions which exists today are notably focused on nature-based solutions (NBS), reproducing what nature has best to offer and adapting it to an urban context. The topic was especially focused on blue and green solutions: allowing the cooling of our cities, absorbing water from rainfalls, creating shelters for biodiversity as well as for the population, for a cost-effective approach compared to traditional development strategies. These solutions are driving the transition of our cities to a more sustainable approach, but cities need available information to implement those Nature-based solutions efficiently and optimize their environmental, social and economic outcomes. These objectives can be achieved thanks to strategic urban planning documents and simulations of the built environment.
One idea that was developed during the introduction session of this forum, is the need to identify the issue of Urban Heat Island and vulnerable populations to it. Those populations are particularly impacted by heat related hazard and can even lead to death related events. Taking care of these population will lead to actions for more resilient and sustainable cities. In fact, those vulnerable population, our children, elders or due to economic factors, could be the key to bring more resilience. Being more impacted by Climate Change, if actions are focused on those population and aiming for more social justice, it will lead to greater commitment for the cities and our societies globally.
One mean to achieve that was to develop vulnerability mapping of these populations for decision makers to implement strategies in the best way possible and reach maximum outcomes from their urban strategies. The objectives are to save time, money, energy and lives!
This kind of technological tool can also be used for monitoring purposes, especially for smaller cities and municipalities, which do not have the means to produce such urban planning document in-house. This is a subject that was particularly emphasized on all along the forum with various dedicated sessions. One of the problems that cities face, is the lack of evaluation of the actions they implemented in their respective cities, which is essential for the development of city’s strategies and their efficiency. One particular indicator to monitor, which we discussed about during one the workshop session, could be the level of greeneries which match with the nature-based solutions.
This monitoring could also be a means to foster collaboration within cities, especially with vulnerability mapping which provides a graphic and an emotional response to the issues of Climate Change. A problem that was common to almost every city is the lack of communication and collaboration between different departments, not having the same objectives. This difficulty lies in the priority given to economic objectives, which politicians and decision makers tend to focus on, despite the challenges at stake. If we wish to develop our societies following the Sustainable Development framework, integrating environmental and economic objectives is part of the solution. The need to take action is real and this past week heatwave in Europe has been a perfect example of what we should seek to protect from. The important issue is not what we can win, but what we can lose…
It was an inspiring journey at the European Urban Resilience forum with all these different cities and urban resilience actors spreading the word about the new urban trends to fight Climate Change. ECOTEN Urban Comfort is very glad to have had the opportunity to meet these urban actors willing to act for our planet and define sustainable foundations to our living spaces.
A special thanks to ICLEI Resilient cities for the organization of the event. See you next year!
A great threat is upon our World as we know it. An army of living dead people will conquer our planet guided by their leader Climate Change to impose an endless summer. A fantasy? Some say it is, but not so much …
Our societies and people will suffer from this summer, and the next to come, as well as the next one, and most probably the one after that… Our planet sees new temperature records every year. Last February in Europe, 3 countries felt those higher temperatures more than the other ones with records in Spain, United Kingdom and Belgium (MyEurop).
The problems that we should expect will rise during summertime, with heatwaves hitting us and leading to a higher number of heat related death. In Europe, in 2003, heatwaves lead to approximately 35 000 casualties, with more than 14 000 for France alone. On a financial point of view, it represented a cost of more than 13 Billion euros across Europe. We can expect more and more reports like the one published by UNEP, “Impacts of summer 2003 heat wave in Europe (2004)”, relaying this harsh reality.
We all love summer but not in the conditions that are expected, and this trend will keep growing until we reach this fantasy. Does it mean doomsday is upon us? No, it’s not!!!
We need to prepare our castles, or cities for the modern humans, and bring resilience to them because they rely at the heart of our societies. Facing this threat and the challenges that comes with it, will need a higher level of commitment because no faceless hero will come to save us… Or is it? We all are the hero helping to engage in this fight, we don’t have dragon glass but other special weapons to make our cities and neighborhoods bearable.
Implementing water bodies which act like heat captors.
Developing green areas to help the urban areas to breathe.
Designing new shapes, structures and using different materials to cool our cities.
Solutions exists to mitigate Climate Change and adapt to it. No wall is here to protect us from it, and even if we did, well we know what happened to it… We need to engage towards building sustainable foundations to our societies on a personal scale, but as well as a community.
Because in the cities of tomorrow, life is full of possibilities…
ECOTEN Urban Comfort is proud to say that it has been acknowledged to be among the best innovations participating in the Katerva awards 2018 for the category “Smart Cities”. This category covers the creation of energy efficient and sustainable remakes of the current systems in place to house and support people.
These Awards “are the pinnacle of global sustainability recognition. Through them, the best ideas on the planet are identified, refined and accelerated toward impact at a global level”. It recompenses promising projects ahead of current thinking with triple digit change and beyond…
In other words, Katerva is seeking the most impactful projects worldwide!
This year has seen a tremendous thrive of solutions aiming to develop our cities and adapt them to today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. It was a hard task for the jury of experts to choose from the thousands of innovative projects which took part in this 2018 competition. Involving more than 600 professionals, 4 filtering phases and 2 stages of focused review, to determine which project is the best…
Among them, ECOTEN Urban Comfort, still at an early stage of its development, managed to play the game admirably well and has been selected among the Top 100 Smart Cities finalists for this year competition. It was an enriching journey and experience alongside these renowned experts, partners and projects with game-breakers solutions.
Congratulations to the winners of this 2018 competition, with a special greeting to WASTE4THINK the winner of the Smart Cities category!