The world is facing critical challenges related to climate change. During the last decade, we have witnessed a significant rise in the frequency of heat waves events across the world. Cities are particularly vulnerable to extreme heat events due to the urban heat island phenomena where urban areas experience higher temperatures compared to their surrounding rural areas due to human activities and the modification of the earth’s surface. Extreme heat in cities causes discomfort, health risks, lower quality of urban life and higher energy consumption. In ECOTEN Urban Comfort, our mission is to provide city planners, city managers, urban policy makers and urban developers with a technical hand on how to identify and mitigate the problem of extreme heat in their cities. By combining our expertise with modern technology for geo-informatics, remote sensing and urban climate modelling as well as a wealth of open access and earth observation data, we can provide tools and consultation for developing resilience to extreme heat for any city in the world. Our first demonstration was to provide the City of Vienna with an Urban Heat Vulnerability Map to help the city officials identify the areas in the city that are most vulnerable to extreme heat. More information on our project can be found here. The idea for the map was presented in the City of Vienna thanks to the EIT Climate KIC Climathon event in Vienna, Austria in 2018. The EIT Climate-KIC Climathon is a year-round program, with a powerful solutions-hackathon at its core, translating climate action solutions into tangible projects, supporting climate-positive businesses & start-ups and addressing local policy changes. Our meeting with the city officials in Vienna in the Climathon event opened doors for us to directly provide our first official Urban Heat Vulnerability Map to the city. This map was released to the Viennese public once it was produced and this was the first step for the city and the citizens to work together to adapt heat resilience strategies to reduce the impacts of extreme heat in Vienna. Overall, the urban heat vulnerability map was a major success for us, City of Vienna and also ETI Climate-KIC. Thanks to this project, we have received immense acknowledgements and this marked the beginning of our journey towards our mission. Thus, we were elated when Climate-KIC invited us to present our success story in partnership with them in the ChangeNOW Summit 2020 in the Grand Palais in Paris, France. The ChangeNOW Summit is a gathering of inspiring individuals and teams that are inventing new solutions to make our planet a better place to live. It was an opportunity for global change makers to showcase their work to the world. From airplanes running around the world with solar power to revolutionary plastic recycling machines, the sky was the limit for the level of innovations that were presented there. For ECOTEN Urban Comfort, it was truly an inspirational event. We have received massive support for our work and business from several individuals, city delegations companies, NGOs and also the media. We have met several agencies which can potentially be our new customers and partners. Moreover, we have also received a lot of interests from talented aspirers to join our growing team which is also very important for us. Overall, we realized that it is not enough for us to provide the urban heat vulnerability maps for Vienna and other cities. We are inspired more than ever to aim higher and bolder for our mission to assist cities protect its citizens against climate change impacts.
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