Czech Republic: Fighting Climate Change
A New Challenge in Europe
In response to the impact of climate change across the continent, the European Union has implemented a wave of green regulations with the goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050. Public and private organizations alike will need to conform to these new standards, an expectation that can appear daunting to those with few available resources.
That was the case for Jiří Čtyroký and the Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR Prague). They were mandated by the city to "enhance long-term resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change." With such a broad directive, Čtyroký and his team weren't sure where to begin. Then, they turned to geographic information system (GIS) technology.
Combining Layers to Discover Solutions
IPR Prague combined three layers of geospatial data onto a single map to help understand the challenge from a new point of view.
The first layer used satellite imaging to identify heat islands, areas with lots of pavement and industrial infrastructure that are especially prone to temperature increases. With heat waves killing grass and trees throughout Prague and rising temperatures leading to an increase in heart attacks among the elderly, IPR Prague had identified an imminent threat to the city and its residents.
The second layer contained precise data on the city's population density, allowing planners to quickly visualize where changes to the landscape could occur that would positively impact the largest number of people.
Finally, IPR Prague added a layer representing municipal regulations with which it needed to comply, outlining the borders in which it could legally operate.
Combining these three layers gave IPR Prague a comprehensive understanding of its problem and solutions and directed it toward the best places to concentrate resources. The team began planting new vegetation and installing water features on rooftops, beneath train tracks, and in other places with great potential to cool down hot spots—locations that never would have been considered without layered spatial analysis.
Planners and Citizens on the Same Page
While it was critical for IPR Prague to understand the impact of climate change on the city, it was equally important to generate public support for the project by sharing its findings with the people impacted by climate change.
Maps were a great way to do this. At the Center for Architecture and Metropolitan Planning (CAMP), IPR Prague's maps were exhibited to the general public, who could walk through the demonstration center and see both the problems facing their city and how those problems were being addressed.
Attendees were especially impressed by the satellite images, showing the places they live and inhabit layered with clear evidence of healthier vegetation and a drop in temperatures during the summer.
For Čtyroký, the data and maps projected onto the walls at CAMP were confirmation of what he had already seen when walking the streets: that he and his team were making Prague a better place to live.
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