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Posted on: June 10, 2022

Norwalk Installs Heat Sensors to help Address Climate Vulnerabilities

(Norwalk, Conn.) Today, June 10th, 2022, Mayor Rilling announced that the City has partnered with the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) to install 13, non-invasive temporary wireless heat sensors across Norwalk to address climate vulnerability. Due to climate change, heat waves are expected to become more common and intensified, which can be dangerous to human health and wellbeing. The heat sensors have been mounted on trees or electric poles to track temperatures in different settings within the City over the next four months to allow Norwalk to better understand local environmental conditions.

“Extreme heat is a leading cause of climate vulnerability and through heat sensors, Norwalk is taking steps to proactively address the threats of climate change,” said Mayor Harry Rilling. “This initiative will help the City identify vulnerable areas to heat so we can implement the most effective ways to help our community prepare for when temperatures become oppressive, especially among disproportionately affected communities.”

The heat sensors record temperature, relative humidity, and dew point temperature at the street level to identify vulnerable areas to heat and extreme climate conditions. Heat sensors are strategically placed approximately 5-6 ft above ground so that data can capture the differences between street and satellite measured temperatures and heat vulnerability in the area.

“If you see one of the heat sensors in the community, we ask that you leave it be and consider explaining the significance of how it will help the City learn more about climate vulnerability to others,” said Mayor Harry Rilling. “This initiative is an opportunity to implement natural climate solutions, especially in urban areas where people experience warmer air temperatures.”

City landscapes tend to have hotter temperatures than surrounding areas. Norwalk plans to use the heat index data to identify the variability of air and surface temperature over time, especially as it relates to urbanization. This will help the City determine policies such as where to place cooling centers and concentrate efforts to alleviate heat-related illness, as well as understand how certain traffic flows affect heat output.   

Under the leadership of the Norwalk Health Department and Norwalk Department of Planning & Zoning and with support from Norwalk Departments of Information Technology, Transportation, Mobility, & Parking, Public Works, Police, Fire Department - Office of Emergency Management, and Recreation & Parks, as well as the Norwalk Water Pollution Control Authority, Norwalk Public Library, Norwalk Public Schools, and Norwalk Community College, the City is implementing heat sensors as one of its efforts to combat climate change and its wide-ranging impact.

Below are the 13 locations throughout the City where the heat sensors are located:

  • Bounton St
  • Calf Pasture Beach 
  • Cranbury Park
  • East Norwalk Train Station
  • Huckleberry Drive
  • Norwalk Community College
  • Norwalk Fire Station 2
  • Norwalk Fire Station 5
  • Norwalk High School/Naramake Elementary School
  • Norwalk Main Public Library/Norwalk Center
  • Rowayton Shoreline
  • SONO Police Property Division/Station
  • West Rocks Middle School

The locations were chosen based on heat vulnerability data from CIRCA, with a goal of diversifying locations while also selecting sites close to public facilities such as schools, municipal buildings, etc. You can learn more about this project through CIRCA’s Norwalk Heat Study, here.

Below is an example of what heat sensors look like taken from the City of New Haven:heat sensors

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