Can technology make our cities climate-resilient?

Can technology make our cities climate-resilient?

Climate change is undeniably reshaping our world, and nowhere is its impact more profound than in our cities. In the Flow of Urban Life Podcast, Aditya Bahadur, an expert in climate-resilient urban development, discusses how technology is our biggest ally in climate-proofing our cities.


In the United States, a groundbreaking startup company has harnessed the power of everyday technology to address the heat crisis by ingeniously leveraging battery temperature data of Android phones to gain insights to air temperature. The result? “Through this, they're now acquiring extremely precise air temperature readings from half a million mobile phones spread across American cities,” says Aditya Bahadur, an expert in climate-resilient urban development.

“They can start predicting that if you have three days of temperature of over 28 degrees Celsius (approx. 82 Fahrenheit) in Montreal, you can be certain that you're heading towards a two-week heatwave. So the city should deploy cooling centers and cooling mechanisms.”

Technology offers an alternative.

In his book, ’Resilience Reset’, Bahadur explores how these technologies complement traditional approaches. For instance, in densely populated cities, understanding who can withstand shocks and stresses is complex. Expensive surveys are impractical, but technology offers an alternative. He cites the example of another startup that could provide targeted assistance and reduce the impact of food emergencies by analyzing mobile top-up data.

“Through real world calibration, they figured out a relationship between mobile top-up information and food security at the household level. They could identify if a household is topping up their mobile phones for less than $10 a month.”

Reaping a resilience dividend

Bahadur says that with technological advancements, it's also crucial to recognize that the cities of the future are yet to be fully realized.

Speaking of the concept of creating a "resilience dividend", he makes the case for not only preventing losses due to climate change but actually fueling economic growth with it. "For instance, if you build a flood wall, you not only prevent losses by preventing flooding, but suddenly the land that lies beyond the flood wall might become viable for a factory," he explains.

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