GEO HeatSprint: A Collaborative Effort to Combat Extreme Heat
16 May 2024

GEO HeatSprint: A Collaborative Effort to Combat Extreme Heat

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Personal Reflections from a Participant

In the fight against extreme heat, which claims the lives of half a million people annually, the Group on Earth Observations in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has recently organized the first-ever GEO HeatSprint workshop.

Having had the privilege of being part of the organizing team, I witnessed not just a gathering of influential stakeholders discussing extreme heat but a dynamic and productive series of brainstorming and co-design sessions involving diverse groups of experts rarely found in the same room. Together, we united against the silent but deadly enemy – extreme heat.

The impact of this workshop was immediate and profound. Eleni Myrivili, the Global Chief Heat Officer to UN-Habitat & Arsht-Rock, expressed her gratitude, stating, "We need data and evidence-based, forward-looking, and systematic strategic plans and initiatives; this would be fantastic for every city to have, and I am grateful that GEO is taking an important step towards this."

So, what set this workshop apart? During the HeatSprint, we took a unique approach to idea-generation. We began by attentively listening to representatives from various cities as they shared their specific challenges related to extreme heat. This exercise allowed us to develop user journey maps, enabling us to understand the perspectives of key decision-makers such as Chief Heat Officers and Community Health Workers. Through this process, we uncovered the critical gaps in decision-support that cities face when managing heat risks.

To find solutions, we divided into smaller groups and engaged in intensive brainstorming sessions. Later, each group presented their proposed solutions to the larger gathering, seeking feedback and suggestions. By the end of the second day, we collectively voted on the most impactful aspects of each proposal. Remarkably, on the third day of the HeatSprint, we had a mock-up prototype of the Global Heat Resilience Service (GHRS) – a tangible demonstration of what can be accomplished when the world unites for a common cause and listens to one another. The GHRS aims to equip every urban area with the necessary data and insights to effectively combat the health risks associated with extreme heat.

This experience emphasized the significance of collaboration and co-design with end-users in tackling global challenges. Each story shared and solution proposed during the HeatSprint reinforced my belief in the mission of GEO – to bring together the right people, in the right place, with the right data for a clear purpose.

To learn more about this initiative or get involved, please contact us at and visit our webpage. Together, we can make a difference in safeguarding our communities from the dangers of extreme heat.