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Latest Updates

Richard Aguilar Glupker

Maintaining Public Health in Planning 2020 Heat-Mapping Campaigns

CAPA Heat Watch was founded on the basis of informing decisions to protect the public’s health. Now as we face the threat of COVID-19, we are considering the intersections between climate-related hazards and public health crises. Whether communities are forced inside due to ‘physical distancing’ required by local, State, or Federal laws, or if an oppressive heat wave keeps communities from venturing outside their homes, such events underscore the principles upon which CAPA was born: understanding hazards, preparedness planning, and local actions to increase resilience.

More practically, and in relation to the coming summer heat campaigns, many of which have been planned for over a year, NOAA’s Climate Program Office, National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS), and CAPA’s Heat Watch program staff are aware of the dangers of COVID-19 and are implementing safety measures in this year’s community science campaigns to allow U.S. cities to map their hot spots without contributing to the spread of the disease. Thus, we plan to continue our operations as long as our partner cities are willing and able to do the same.

In fact, all three steps of CAPA’s Heat Watch process -- preparedness, execution, and interpretation -- are easily adaptable to online and individualized approaches, which maintain policies of physical distancing and reducing exposure pathways. Our organizer and volunteer training sessions and subsequent interactions are all designed to be conducted remotely. We’ll be using a combination of ‘old fashioned’ phone calls and Zoom video-conferencing with our partners. Online training has been and will continue to be our standard practice, since survey feedback from all previous campaigns indicates an effective and timely approach for preparing participants.

For executing the campaign, we are building off a ‘grocery store’ model that offers parking lot pick up and drop off locations. Our sensor equipment and delivery boxes will be sanitized before, during, and after heat campaigns. Equipment and shipping materials will be sanitized before being sent to campaign organizers, and we will request local organizers clean it again (sanitizer will be provided) before they are safely distributed to and returned by volunteers at outdoor pick-up and drop-off sites. Volunteers will be able to pick up sanitized equipment while adhering to physical distancing guidelines, and they will conduct their traverses from the safety of their own vehicle. Guidelines for these steps will be included in the starter and equipment packages.

We will continue to provide new information as it becomes available, and do everything in our capacity to ensure successful campaigns this summer. We hope that our safety measures encourage you to consider moving forward with your campaign this summer, and that doing so will help you protect your citizens from the immediate threat of COVID-19, while also protecting them from the longer-term threat of extreme heat.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns; or if you plan to discontinue your 2020 campaign for any reason.





The Urban Heat Island Citizen Science Campaigns are made possible by:




NIHHIS is made possible by our participating agencies.










NIHHIS Headquarters

Address: 1315 East-West Hwy, Suite 1100
Silver Spring, MD 20910

About Us

NIHHIS is an integrated information system that builds understanding of the problem of extreme heat, defines demand for climate services that enhance societal resilience, develops science-based products and services from a sustained climate science research program, and improves capacity, communication, and societal understanding of the problem in order to reduce morbidity and mortality due to extreme heat.  NIHHIS is a jointly developed system by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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