LA County Heat

Practicum Project | 2023

Public parks as cooling infrastructure: assessing changes in use during extreme heat events from smartphone locations

Climate change is causing an increase in extreme heat events in Los Angeles County, with central areas predicted to experience three times the number of days with temperatures over 95°F compared with the present. As a result, residents without access to cool spaces or air-conditioning are at a growing risk of negative health impacts such as dehydration and heat stroke. Public parks can offer relief from extreme heat in urban areas; the shade and water provided by parks can lower the general temperature in surrounding areas. However, the benefits of parks are not equally accessible to all, as lower income households, unhoused residents, and Black and Hispanic residents frequently have less access to green space. Our project aims to analyze public spatial data from mobile phones made available through the Heat Resilient LA Project to understand how LA residents utilize public parks during extreme heat events. From the data, we aim to determine the demographics of park users, where park users travel from, and how park usage changes during extreme heat. This study could inform the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the County’s Chief Sustainability Office on public health and urban planning strategies to mitigate the effects of extreme heat in communities that are most at risk.

Student Team: Renato Escobar, Samara Fruman, Alondra Gallegos, Jasmine Kim, Jana Salomon, Danielle Sonobe, Jeff Van, and Bethany Woo

Client: County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health and County Chief Sustainability Office

Advisor: Dr. Travis Longcore