Optimizing and rebalancing heat-related utility assistance provider-client system at Phoenix, Arizona

Authors: Qunshan Zhao*, Arizona State University, Ziqi Li, Arizona State University, Jowan Thornton, The Salvation Army Phoenix Family Services, Patricia Solis, Arizona State University, Elizabeth Wentz, Arizona State University
Topics: Geography and Urban Health, Hazards and Vulnerability, Spatial Analysis & Modeling
Keywords: Utility assistance, heat vulnerable population, spatial optimization, GIS
Session Type: Guided Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Roosevelt 3.5, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Phoenix metropolitan area is known for its long and hot summers. To alleviate extreme heat, pools, central air conditioning (AC), and green infrastructure, offer residents heat mitigation strategies. AC is one of the most widely used methods to reduce heat stress and indoor heat-related death of city residents from the extreme heat exposure. However, due to the high demand of electricity usage, local utility companies increase prices during the peak of the summer time. This results in high utility bills that are not affordable for many low-income individuals and families. Thus, they have to find alternatives to overcome the extreme heat during the summer such as staying in cooling centers, requesting utility assistance, and depending on their social network such as family and neighbors. Many local government, NGOs, and charitable organization provide utility assistance program for qualified applicants to fulfill their utility assistance need. Due to the limited budget of the utility assistance program, only a very limited number of people receive utility assistance. To improve the utility assistance program operation efficiency, we have collaborated with the Salvation Army to understand their current operational status of utility assistance provider-client system, and utilize GIS and spatial optimization methods to provide insights and advice to their system. Our research will help the Salvation Army better service the utility assistance population and improve the overall efficiency of the entire system. Future work includes extending our collaboration to other utility assistance providers and improve the overall service efficiency by a centralized provider-client system.

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