The Pulse: Oct. 19, 2023

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  • 21°C: Sunny. Increasing cloudiness early in the afternoon. High 21. UV index 2 or low. (forecast)
  • Purple/Orange: The High Level Bridge will be lit purple and orange for National Psoriatic Arthritis Day. (details)
  • 5:30pm: The Edmonton Oilers (1-2-0) play the Philadelphia Flyers (2-1-0) at Wells Fargo Center. (details)

A screenshot taken from The U.S. Climate Vulnerability Index showing Houston and its Arrow phenomenon.

Darkhorse Analytics visualizes U.S. climate vulnerability

By Colin Gallant

An Edmonton-based data visualization company has launched a new interactive map on climate vulnerability around the U.S. that aims to equip policymakers and communities with actionable insights.

Darkhorse Analytics built The U.S. Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI) to visualize the findings of Characterizing vulnerabilities to climate change across the United States, a study by Texas A&M University and the Environmental Defense Fund.

"Darkhorse has a history of working a lot in economic mobility and other areas of the social paradigm, but we've never done anything large in the environmental world," vice-president Craig Hiltz told Taproot. "Our mission is to use data science and data visualization to help make an impact in the world."

The CVI comprises 184 sets of data used to rank more than 73,000 census tracts on how vulnerable they are to the effects of climate change. The data sets are organized into numerous sub-categories split between baseline vulnerabilities that reduce community resilience and climate change risks that have a direct or indirect impact. Cumulatively, the dashboard offers ways to browse and filter data across the U.S. to gain insights on what is driving climate vulnerability where and by how much. Once users land on the data they're looking for, the tool generates a report with specifics.

"Finding a way to structure that in a tree-like form that our users can roam around fairly quickly was probably the biggest challenge on a design front," said Rob Korzan, the Darkhorse team member who led design. "Technically, it would be showing those data points at all 73,000-ish tracts in the U.S. and having the tool be performant … being able to click on a new indicator and seeing the map change without waiting for 10 seconds."

Taking data from a paper and visualizing it can help to reveal things that could otherwise go unnoticed.

"In Houston, for instance, we have this thing. We call it 'The Arrow,'" said Grace Tee Lewis, a senior health scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund. "There are some neighbourhoods that are clustered together. They form what looks like an arrow. And that's kind of like the dividing line between the haves and the have-nots."

The CVI uses a colour scale to indicate the intensity of climate vulnerability. But the ability to zoom in on specific indicators like access to care, socioeconomic stressors, pollution sources, and transportation helps unpack the "why."

"There are a lot of communities across the United States that are in need. And they may have the same CVI score, but the profile of what makes them vulnerable, cumulatively, can be really different," Tee Lewis said.

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Headlines: Oct. 19, 2023

By Kevin Holowack and Mariam Ibrahim

View of a downtown street from the perspective of a very tall building, providing a look at the tops of buildings and the horizon

Calls for public engagement: Meyokumin, Rollie Miles rec centre, Oliver

By Kevin Holowack

Here are some opportunities to offer your input on civic initiatives, including neighbourhood renewal projects in Meyokumin and Oliver, and a new recreation centre in Queen Alexandra.

  • Meyokumin Neighbourhood and Alley Renewal (refine) — The City of Edmonton has released its final design for the Meyokumin renewal project and entered its refine-level stage of public engagement. Residents are invited to review the final design and ensure it reflects the project's vision and guiding principles. An online engagement event is happening on Oct. 24, and an online survey will be open until Oct. 26.
  • Rollie Miles Recreation Centre (design) — The City of Edmonton entered the final round of public engagement for the design phase of its Rollie Miles Recreation Centre Project, which is developing a new recreation centre in the Rollie Miles District Activity Park in the Queen Alexandra neighbourhood. Earlier this year, the city released a "flythrough" video showcasing the design concept as well as a What We Heard Report summarizing public engagement from 2023. An online survey will be open until Nov. 1.
  • Oliver Neighbourhood Renewal — The City of Edmonton has begun planning and design work for the Oliver renewal project, and residents can expect to see crews completing a variety of planning activities in the area this October. For the next three years, city teams will be engaging with residents, property owners, and other stakeholders to help shape the future of the neighbourhood. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2026. Community walks and pop-up engagement activities will take place this fall, and an online survey will be open until Nov. 17.

More input opportunities

Photo: 104 Avenue in the Oliver neighbourhood, looking west. (Mack Male/Flickr)