A Comparative Assessment of Cooling Center Service Coverages and Access Disparities in Vulnerable Subpopulation Groups across Twenty-five US Cities

Authors: Kyusik Kim*, Florida State University, Jihoon Jung, University of Washington, Claire Schollaert, University of Washington
Topics: Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Hazards and Vulnerability, Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: cooling center, heat-vulnerable population, accessibility
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 7
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Cooling centers have played a significant role in reducing the adverse health outcomes of extreme heat exposure, however, little attention has been paid to location and access disparities among various heat-vulnerable subpopulation groups. This study investigated three aspects of cooling center accessibility using a catchment area method with a walking distance (0.5-mile) across twenty-five cities in the United States. We first compared the level of cooling center service delivery with service population coverage and evaluated the association with heat index and latitude. We then examined the relationship between the spatial pattern of cooling centers and service population coverage. Finally, we investigated the access disparities among various vulnerable demographics and socioeconomic subpopulation groups by comparing population coverage rates between vulnerable subpopulation groups and non-vulnerable subpopulation groups. Our result showed that service population coverage was inversely proportional to city’s heat index and proportional to city’s latitude. We also found that the cities with dispersed cooling centers tended to have a better service coverage than the cities with clustered cooling centers. Moreover, we observed access disparities among the older (≥ 65) subpopulation group, showing 0.91 times lower service coverage than the reference group (≤ 64) in over twenty-five cities. However, other vulnerable subpopulation groups had better service coverage than its reference subpopulation. Our results suggest that the placement of future cooling centers should consider both the spatial distribution of heat-vulnerable subpopulations and the location of other nearby cooling centers to maximize service delivery coverage and reduce potential access disparities among vulnerable subpopulations.

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