J46.7 Engaging Stakeholders in the Development and Evaluation of Web-Based Tools to Address Heat-Related Illness in North Carolina

Wednesday, 10 January 2018: 3:00 PM
Room 17B (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Ashley R. Ward, NOAA, Chapel Hill, NC

Heat-Related illness is generally associated with urban areas due to the urban heat island effect. In North Carolina, previous research demonstrates that heat-related illness is more common in rural areas among populations who are exposed, rather than those who are sensitive. Sensitive populations are at risk; however, rates in rural areas, primarily among those who are exposed, are eight to ten times greater than that found in urban areas in the state. In collaboration with community stakeholders, we developed a web-based forecasting tool (Heat Health Vulnerability Tool-HHVT) that serves as an early-warning indicator of increased risk of heat-illness. The tool is housed in a website, also developed through community engagement practices, that addresses topics related to climate health vulnerabilities in the Carolinas. Through a series of community engagement sessions, community stakeholders were directly responsible for shaping the model development for the tool, the function of the tool itself, and the creation of the website.

Multiple methodologies were employed to evaluate the usability and functionality of the tool and the website. Multi-level collaborations between state universities, state agencies, and community stakeholders resulted in a robust evaluation framework that consisted of eye-tracking analysis, knowledge assessments, survey, and web-based analytics. The result of these assessments will inform the further design and function of the tools. The use of these tools will support community preparedness strategies and potentially mitigate the effects of heat-related illness in North Carolina’s most vulnerable communities.

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