The city of Danbury, CT has installed sensors designed to measure real-time temperature, humidity, and dew-point data near public housing complexes. The city’s department of emergency management worked with the University of Connecticut’s Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation on the initiative.
The sensors were installed in public housing complexes around the city as they are generally built out of brick and concrete and are located in dense urban areas. This makes them ideal for studying how heat affects areas dominated by man-made structures and materials. The public housing facilities also have the advantage as test sites as they are located in different parts of Danbury, allowing the team to gather data from different geographical areas of the city. The findings from the study will then be compared with other locations in the state that are less densely populated, have more tree cover, or both. A previous investigation by the New York Times found that areas with lower-income populations tend to have higher ambient temperatures than more affluent neighborhoods, precisely because of their building materials and sparse tree cover.
The new heat sensors are expected to demonstrate whether citywide recorded temperatures accurately represent how hot it actually feels. Satellite data does not always fully capture the ambient temperature as experienced by people in real life, as measurements taken from space are often only able to measure the temperature of rooftops and pavement.
The data from the heat sensors will be used to determine where to open cooling shelters for residents, and to aid in deciding whether future construction projects in the city should use different materials that do not emit as much heat in the surrounding environment.