Smart Borders: Heat Vulnerability Assessment of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico 


With a combined population of more than 2.4 million people, El Paso-Juárez is the largest cross-border metropolitan area in the United States and Mexico. The vast majority of the inhabitants live on the Mexican side of the border. Located in the Chihuahuan desert, the area has an arid climate and experiences hot summers with an average high of 88 °F (31 °C). In 2017, the City of El Paso adopted a Resilience Strategic Plan that aims at transforming the city into smart and resilient city. In collaboration with Miroslav Svitek from CVUT (Czech Technical University in Prague), we have been working on this Smart Border project presenting the comparative assessment of urban heat vulnerability for El Paso, USA and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico as a part of smart resilient city index.

Our methodology


We define relevant indices to take into consideration for heat assessment for both cities.


Measured by studying and quantifying the occurence of high temperatures within the city between 2015 and 2019


Measured by studying the population density over the city for this project


Adaptive Capacity

Measured by identifying greeneries and water-bodies. It represents the ability of the ecosystem to cope with heat events


Based on our algorithm, we map the sub-indices and combine them to create the Urban Heat Vulnerability Map to identify which public transport stops are the most vulnerable to extreme heat.


More than 50% of the surface is vulnerable to extreme heat

For comparing the urban heat vulnerability index of El Paso, USA and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, the total populated areas were mapped and the surface areas for the 2 cities were calculated by using GHSL Data Package, 2019. For those areas, the urban heat vulnerability index for the 2 cities were calculated as the ratio of the total areas with urban heat vulnerability value above 0.5 to the total populated areas. 


Ciudad Juárez: 2,4 x more dense than El Paso in terms of population

El Paso has a larger populated area of 411,73 km2 for a smaller number of inhabitants (700,000 people) in comparison to Ciudad Juárez where the populated area of 337,98 km2 has 1,4M inhabitants. The difference in the density is very significant:

  • El Paso: 1,700 inhabitants/km2 of inhabited area;
  • Ciudad Juárez: 4,200 inhabitants/km2 of inhabited area.

More findings in the full research publication

The paper presents the comparative assessment of urban heat vulnerability for El Paso, USA and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico as a part of Smart Resilient City Index. 

In this paper, you will find:

  • A presentation of the heat vulnerability framework
  • The full range of maps used for the Urban Heat Vulnerability Assessment
  • The results discussed as an illustrative example of the smart border concept.