Friday, July 8, 2016

Citizen Scientists Study Summer Heat in Harlem


C. Coimbra photo

NEW YORK, NY -- A pioneering news initiative this summer will bring together a unique team of non-profit journalism and community partners to investigate how summer heat affects the health of residents of the Harlem section of Manhattan and to explore ways to build community resilience.

The Harlem Heat Project will use heat-and-humidity sensors to capture hard-to-access indoor air conditions with the help of a crew of community-based citizen scientists. These “ambassadors” will also gather updates about residents via a mobile app. Reporters will document the process and the results in multiple installments over the summer.
 
More people die of extreme heat in this country every year than in hurricanes and other natural disasters combined. Many heat-death victims are elderly and poor, and their deaths occur behind closed doors, out of the view of public agencies and the media.

… Radio station WNYC Senior Editor Matthew Schuerman, one of the team’s leaders, “The Harlem Heat Project will be one important way to get into those hot stuffy rooms where that population lives, document the dangers they face through crowd-sourced data, and identify ways to reduce the risks.”

The heat and humidity sensor is being developed and prototyped by WNYC’s Data News Editor John Keefe. “We’re using do-it-yourself hobby electronics, and documenting our process along the way, so that anyone could replicate this project in their own community,” Keefe said.
 
The project expects to gather insights directly from the citizen science ambassadors and participating community members through a new phone app developed by iSeeChange and NASA. The iSeeChange Tracker app newly released on iTunes, as well as the mobile website, allow community members to contribute directly to the Harlem Heat Project’s urban heat investigation.

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