In 2007, Phoenix experienced 30 days of temperatures of 110 degrees or higher, a record that was matched in 2011 and 2016. During the past 20 years, the average nighttime temperature has increased by nine degrees. According to our research partners at Arizona State University, temperatures will continue to rise. Heat is both a public health and an equity challenge, disproportionately impacting low-income residents, seniors and people of color. Each year, 1,700 Arizonans visit the emergency room or are hospitalized for heat-related illnesses. In 2018, there were 182 confirmed heat-related deaths in Metropolitan Phoenix, according to our partners at Maricopa County Department of Public Health.
The first of its kind in the nation, HeatReady Phoenix is a platform to help identify, mitigate, track, and respond to the dangers of rising urban heat. This platform focuses on infrastructure, public transportation, housing, and shade, among other areas. Examples of prototypes tested include: a volunteer-led tree planting and maintenance program; volunteer outreach to connect low-income transit users to support during extreme heat events; the piloting of a misted bus shelter; removing regulatory barriers for manufactured shade in the right of way, among others. In collaboration with researchers at Arizona State University, we are developing a heat exposure simulation model that uses data to inform heat mitigation investment.