A Multi-City Study of Thermal Adaptation in Urban Outdoor Spaces Using Data Analytics

Department: Urban Planning and Design
Research Centre: Sustainable High Density Cities lab

Jianxiang Huang1, Lishuia Li2, Phil Jones3, Mengdi Guo1, Tongping Hao1, Yiming Sun1, Anqi Zhang1

Department of Urban Planning and Design, Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong
Department of System Engineering and Engineering Management, The City University of Hong Kong
Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University, UK


Urban heat arising from both climate change and Urban Heat Island (UHI) effects takes a toll on urban life, affecting activity patterns, quality of life and health of living in cities. Understanding human perception and behavioural responses to the urban thermal environment is of importance to energy efficient and climate adaptive planning practices. Thermal adaptation of urban residents in outdoor urban space remains inconclusive in existing studies. Most studies rely on observations or field questionnaires (self-reported results); findings are often limited by sample size, study period and sites available. Results may not be generalizable across climate zones, societies and culture. The aim of this study is to develop an analytical framework to measure outdoor activities and thermal adaption in open spaces. We hypothesize that activities and thermal preference uncovered in cyberspace is indicative to the real space. Six major Chinese cities across climate zones with significant social media activities are selected. The project will 1) develop a new analytical framework to monitor the dynamics of human responses to heat stress in open space using social media data, 2) evaluate results from the above framework using traditional methods, i.e. online follow-up survey, field questionnaire, observation, and measurement of microclimate attributes, and 3) analyze the relationship between thermal-related topics posted on social media and the user’s in-situ thermal exposure calculated from urban microclimate models. A pilot study was conducted in Hong Kong using 302,633 Twitter data collected from May. 2016 to Jan. 2017.

Acknowledgement HKUrbanLab Seed Funding of the Faculty of Architecture, Hong Kong Research Grants Council Theme-Based Research Scheme under Grant T32-101/15-R, National Natural Science Foundation of China funded research


Enlarge Photo: Sentiment tones of heat-related social media data in relation to outdoor thermal
conditions in open spaces.Enlarge Photo: The temporal characteristics of twitter activities in Hong Kong’s open spacesEnlarge Photo: Implementation of thermal adaptation studies in multiple cities across