Understanding Heat Resiliency via Physiological, Mental, and Behavioral Health Factors for Indoor and Outdoor Urban Environments
Lead PI:
Suren Jayasuriya

Exposure to extreme heat is harmful to human health and well-being. As cities grow and both the incidence and intensity of high-temperature events increases, the management of population heat exposure while minimizing disruption to day-to-day activities is becoming a growing challenge among urban planners and residents alike. High temperatures pose especially large potential risks for vulnerable populations such as the elderly, young children, and low-income families. This Smart and Connected Communities Planning Grant supports the creation of a collaborative working group of researchers in mobile systems, computational imaging and sensing, urban climate informatics, and economics alongside key stakeholders of community members, city officials, urban planners, and designers to investigate potential strategies to increase heat resiliency in urban populations. In collaboration with researchers and community members from Japan, this project will seek to identify, promulgate, and promote strategies for heat-risk reduction and resiliency - both within and across cultural contexts - while also investigating the importance of local cultural factors in the spread and adoption of such strategies at the individual and societal levels. This work will span both the United States and Japan, two populations whose cities suffer different issues related to heat exposure. This project will support travel, preliminary research studies, and workshop forums with community partners. The outcomes of this planning grant will include pilot studies and data collection for measuring physiological factors for heat effects, as well as a multiscale framework for linking physiological, behavioral/mental, and socioeconomical/cultural factors for heat resiliency across the United States and Japan.

This project aims to identify and assist stakeholders in tackling challenges facing at-risk populations in communities due to extreme heat. In particular, the project plans and builds capacity for future research aimed to study (1) physiological markers for heat stress and exposure, leveraging techniques from physics-based computational imaging and mobile health sensing, as well as (2) mental and behavioral models for individuals exposed to heat conditions, and how they interact with one another. Results will be used to develop user-centric thermal comfort models for individuals exposed to extreme heat conditions. This includes both physiological effects due to quantifiable environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity, but also subjective assessment of an individual’s tolerance to heat based on clothing, activity level, past exposure history and experiences. A key focus of this project is to study these factors across communities in the United States and Japan. This includes planning and piloting preliminary data collection efforts for three cities: Amherst, Massachusetts; Phoenix, Arizona; and the greater Osaka region, Japan. Researchers with expertise in sensor development, heat sensing, mobile health, economics and behavioral modeling, and urban climate and infrastructure will collaborate to understand key research questions about the challenges and need for solutions in this application domain. This research will interact with key stakeholders in the three communities across the United States and Japan, and insights gleaned from the research will be shared with the community to develop effective strategies to build climate-smart cities. Workshops and collaborative activities will strengthen research ties between the international institutions, including capacity building and planning for integrative research in the future to tackle heat resiliency in both the United States and Japan.

Suren Jayasuriya
Suren Jayasuriya is an assistant professor jointly between the departments of Arts, Media and Engineering (AME) and Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering (ECEE). Before, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his doctorate in 2017 from the ECE Department at Cornell University, and a bachelor's in mathematics and in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh in 2012. His research focuses on designing new types of computational cameras, systems, and visual computing algorithms that can extract and understand more information from the world around us.
Performance Period: 06/01/2020 - 05/31/2022
Institution: Arizona State University
Award Number: 1951928
Core Areas: International