Project Details


This Civic Innovation Challenge Full Award (CIVIC-FA) project pilots innovative solutions to assist low-resource urban residents as they adapt to increasing heat stress and local air pollution, both outdoors and indoors. It also seeks to understand what enhances or diminishes adaptive capacity. The project takes place in an environmental justice community in the heart of a densely populated megalopolis that endures air pollution emanating from oil refineries, major highways, a large port, and an international airport. Residents also suffer from increasing heat stress during the summer months. The compounded effects of environmental hazards and poverty threaten the health and well-being of seniors living in public housing. Moreover, young people living in these locations often lack opportunities to learn and develop STEM skills. A community collaborative led by a local non-profit, a public housing authority, and a nearby university seeks to mitigate these problems with a bold project that brings together youth and seniors to characterize indoor and outdoor air quality and thermal conditions and to develop solutions. This project supports society’s efforts to develop effective responses to ongoing climate change. Understanding the realistic extent of adaptive capacity in low-resource populations is an important question in environmental social science. The project develops a network of fixed outdoor and indoor air pollution and temperature sensors, provides youths living in public housing with environmental sensor-equipped backpacks to carry along routes used by seniors to measure personal exposures, establishes a publicly-accessible data hub, designed with input from an array of community stakeholders, and builds a modeling platform known as a dynamic digital twin to represent the public housing authority’s buildings and surrounding neighborhoods. This platform will support “what-if” explorations of household solutions (e.g., DIY air filters), enterprise solutions (e.g., air conditioner retrofits), community solutions (e.g., shade trees), and policy solutions (e.g., establishing a right to air conditioning). A multi-faceted engagement and communication strategy will help community members use this information effectively. The digital twin will help the housing authority manage its facilities. Youths participating in the project will gain STEM skills in a highly replicable program. The project adds to empirical and conceptual knowledge of vulnerable residents’ behavioral choices and adaptive capacity during heatwaves and air pollution episodes, highlighting the potential for constructive action at multiple levels spanning individuals, organizations, and institutions.The CIVIC Innovation Challenge is a collaboration with Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, and the National Science Foundation.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date10/1/239/30/24


  • National Science Foundation: $1,000,000.00


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