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Research institute unveils new tool to combat San Antonio’s urban heat island effect

The data analysis is used to determine overlap of hot areas and vulnerable populations.

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This map of San Antonio illustrates the distribution of urban heat islands (red) near downtown. Southwest Research Institute has created a comprehensive data analysis tool to help the city identify urban heat islands and pursue viable mitigation methods for especially vulnerable populations.

Courtesy of SwRI

We know all too well the Alamo City heat can be scorching, dreadful, and down right miserable.

Enter a new collaboration between the city, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), and UTSA. They’ve created a new data tool aiming to minimize the impact of urban heat island areas.

What’s an urban heat island?

Urban heat islands occur when higher temperatures in areas with more physical infrastructure — think asphalt, steel, and concrete — absorb heat during the day and release it back at night, leading to higher average temperatures.

Data-driven solutions

SwRI created a data tool that combines more than 230 data sets across various city departments + databases, allowing local leaders to analyze multiple scenarios at once.

Simple solutions like planting trees are the most effective way to combat the urban heat island effect. Another example is using the new tool to look at which bus stops have overlap with high temperatures.

Speaking from personal experience, the Alamo Ranch Shopping Center could use more trees. Being stuck in that hot Culebra traffic is a nightmare.

Even though the data tool is used to target the urban heat island effect, it can be applied to different aspects of our city as well. City leaders can use it to identify more sustainability-related issues as they work towards its SA Climate Ready initiative.

Stay cool in the meantime

While the city works on this new tool, don’t forget about the immediate access to San Antonio’s cooling centers and learn about the city’s active cool pavement plan.