Learn more about our ongoing study
Climate change is the biggest threat to humans in the 21st century and with global warming already occurring, we must prepare to live in a warmer climate that will experience more frequent, intense and longer extreme heat events (Patz et al., 2005; Costello et al., 2009). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that climate change will cause severe impacts on health due to increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events which in turn increases the occurrence of heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke and acute cardiovascular disease (Bustinza et al., 2013; Li et al., 2015). Despite the increasing frequency of these extreme weather events, current surveillance ecosystems are not equipped to monitor the indoor temperature in houses and apartments to provide early warnings for high-risk individuals (e.g., older adults and infants) (Davoudi et al., 2012). With IoT technology however, indoor temperature monitoring enables better projections about climate conditions, presenting an opportunity for improvement and innovation (Hughes, 2015).
For my thesis, I will be exploring how Canadians perceive risk to heatwaves and receive information about heatwaves, and the use of smart thermostats to monitor indoor temperatures and collect data to understand better how people cope with extreme heat. We will be deploying sensors in low-income settings as these populations are unlikely to have smart thermostats. Working with partners such as Health Canada and public health units, our goal is to improve our heat health warning systems. At the UbiLab, we believe that by leveraging everyday innovations, we can improve society and reduce health disparities, and enable real-time data-driven decision making, and informed policy development.
The research questions I will be answering are below:
- How do Canadians perceive the risk of heat waves and heat-related illnesses in the literature?
- How do Canadians receive public health safety messaging around extreme heat events and how do they perceive/use/act upon it?
- Can using the Internet of Things (IoT) and the data collected to create hyper-local data sources improve existing heat alert response systems?
Arlene Oetomo, PhD
Last updated: April 21, 2022