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In 2019, the World Meteorological Organization published its “Guidance on Integrated Urban Hydrometeorological, Climate and Environment Services (Volume I: Concept and Methodology)” to assist WMO Members in developing and implementing the urban services that address the needs of city stakeholders in their countries. The guidance has relevant implications for not only protecting infrastructures from the impacts of climate change in the urban environment, but its proper declination strongly supports health-related policies to protect the population from direct and indirect impacts. Utilizing some principles of the guidance, the urbanized area of Bologna (Italy) was analyzed in order to furnish the municipality with tools coherent with the best practices actually emerging from the international bibliography to protect the citizens’ health of this city. Specifically, the analysis concentrated on the public spaces and the potential vulnerabilities of the fragile population to high-temperature regimes in the city. Utilizing the guidance as a methodological framework, the authors developed a methodology to define the microclimate vulnerabilities of the city and specific cards to assist the policymakers in city regeneration. Because the medieval structure of the city does not allow the application of a wide set of nature-based solutions, our main attention was placed on the possibility of furnishing the city with a great number of pocket parks obtainable from spaces actually dedicated to parking lots, thus introducing new green infrastructures in a highly deprived area in order to assure safety spaces for the fragile population.
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Citation: Cremonini, L.; Nardino, M.;
Georgiadis, T. The Utilization of the
WMO-1234 Guidance to Improve
Citizen’s Wellness and Health: An
Italian Perspective. Int. J. Environ.
Res. Public Health 2022,19, 15056.
https://doi.org/10.3390/
ijerph192215056
Academic Editor: William A. Toscano
Received: 8 October 2022
Accepted: 13 November 2022
Published: 16 November 2022
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International Journal of
Environmental Research
and Public Health
Article
The Utilization of the WMO-1234 Guidance to Improve
Citizen’s Wellness and Health: An Italian Perspective
Letizia Cremonini, Marianna Nardino and Teodoro Georgiadis *
Institute for the BioEconomy CNR, Via Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy
*Correspondence: teodoro.georgiadis@ibe.cnr.it
Abstract:
In 2019, the World Meteorological Organization published its “Guidance on Integrated
Urban Hydrometeorological, Climate and Environment Services (Volume I: Concept and Method-
ology)” to assist WMO Members in developing and implementing the urban services that address
the needs of city stakeholders in their countries. The guidance has relevant implications for not
only protecting infrastructures from the impacts of climate change in the urban environment, but
its proper declination strongly supports health-related policies to protect the population from direct
and indirect impacts. Utilizing some principles of the guidance, the urbanized area of Bologna (Italy)
was analyzed in order to furnish the municipality with tools coherent with the best practices actually
emerging from the international bibliography to protect the citizens’ health of this city. Specifically, the
analysis concentrated on the public spaces and the potential vulnerabilities of the fragile population
to high-temperature regimes in the city. Utilizing the guidance as a methodological framework, the
authors developed a methodology to define the microclimate vulnerabilities of the city and specific
cards to assist the policymakers in city regeneration. Because the medieval structure of the city does
not allow the application of a wide set of nature-based solutions, our main attention was placed on
the possibility of furnishing the city with a great number of pocket parks obtainable from spaces
actually dedicated to parking lots, thus introducing new green infrastructures in a highly deprived
area in order to assure safety spaces for the fragile population.
Keywords:
urban environment; integrated approach; health policies; ecosystem services; citizen’s
health; regeneration policies
1. Introduction
The urgency of actions across society, specifically in the urban system, is clearly
outlined by Sustainable Development Goal 11 of the United Nations [
1
]. This specific
goal, number 11, refers to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient
and sustainable”. The word “safe” in the previous statement refers to the endangerment
of life caused by the increase in extreme events and the strength of the concept of health
expressed by WHO (World Health Organization). This concept refers to health as “a state
of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease
or infirmity”.
Nowadays, there is a massive body of evidence on how heat waves affect the health
conditions of the general and fragile populations [
2
6
], specifically the elderly [
7
] (Journal
of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology), children [
8
,
9
], diabetic patients [
10
,
11
], and people
affected by mental disorders [
12
,
13
]. These phenomena affect the population, increasing
direct health risks and social isolation. We also have to bear in mind that we are still
experiencing the effects of COVID-19, which significantly increased social isolation [
14
,
15
];
thus, there is an urgent need to spread best practices, especially for the Mediterranean
regions where the worst effects are expected in a very short time [1618].
The WHO 2011 report [
19
] found that many forms of asthma and allergies, as well
as heart disease and strokes related to increasingly intense heat waves and cold spells,
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 15056. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192215056 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 15056 2 of 13
could be addressed by climate-friendlier housing measures. The report also notes that
more attention should be paid to the housing risks of rapidly growing developing cities.
Furthermore, for protecting populations, particularly vulnerable groups, the need to link
knowledge relating to climate change and the response capacity of urban structures to
this is becoming ever more immediate. For these reasons, close contact between different
disciplines has been increasingly affirmed, which allows the development of integrated
technologies and the practices of urban services [20,21].
The WMO guidance on Integrated Urban Hydrometeorological, Climate and Environ-
mental Services [
21
] report the concepts and methodologies used by the public administra-
tion and stakeholders to closely link knowledge and actions. Only the understanding of
the territorial reality which determines the urban and social structural fragility can allow
the development of general strategies, which then identify the actions to be developed in
the field. The document’s introduction explicitly references the SDG relating to sustainable
cities and communities and the need to meet their needs. Specifically, to make the knowl-
edge available for the development of services for the health-vulnerable population based
on microclimate information at the city block scale, to advice on urban design, planning,
and zoning. To further assist public administrations, the WMO has not limited itself to
providing the theoretical and methodological basis to effect the change but has further
strengthened the knowledge base by giving practical examples of cities that have already
implemented these services as good practices [
22
]. Moreover, other authors from the WMO
working group have produced an in-depth analysis of four case studies of cities located on
different continents [23].
Once the methodology has been clearly traced, the public administrations are tasked
with identifying fragility and vulnerabilities and implementing strategies and actions to
protect the population. Therefore, it is necessary to take advantage of the potential that the
various urban ecosystem services can express [
24
] and assess [
25
]. Specifically for Italy, an
in-depth study on urban standards and ecosystem services was recently conducted and
provided further indications of good practices in the Italian national territory [
26
]. This
study is significant because it clarifies the evolution and innovations introduced in urban
planning practices. Therefore, we have seen how it is possible to develop strategies and
actions by combining them with the urban planning tools available from a methodological
approach accompanied by exposure to good practices. This study aims to indicate how we
can go to the level of detail of a single urban-architectural unit to implement strategies and
actions at a micro-environmental level with the support of urban ecosystem services.
2. Methodology
The Municipality of Bologna, a city located in the Po Valley (Italy) and often subjected
to the effects of heat waves, decided to implement its Adaptation Plan and, in particular,
the General Urban Planning (PUG) tool with a study at the level of the entire city of
climate vulnerabilities. The data collection and analysis methodologies are presented in
Nardino et al. [
27
] and Nardino et al. [
28
] where a microclimate index and Urban Heatwave
Thermal Index (UHTI), were developed. UHTI takes into account three principal urban
remotely sensed elements: (a) surface materials represented by the LST (Land Surface
Temperature), (b) vegetation represented by the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index
(NDVI) and (c) urban morphology expressed in terms of SVF (Sky View Factor); their
relationship with ground air temperature data is established through linear modeling. In
particular, the relationship between air temperature and Vegetation Fraction Cover (VFC)
was the following:
TVFC =2.5 (VFC) + 25.79
indicating a decrease in air temperature when the vegetation is increasing.
This index, introduced in the General Urban Plan [
29
], now provides indications to
construction companies and stakeholders on which values must be respected by operating
in the different areas of the city.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 15056 3 of 13
Adopting that methodology already represents a basic level of protection for the
population’s health. However, it remains of great importance to define how to implement
specific protections according to the typology of the resident population, with the use
of the places, and the specific characteristics of the micro architectural-urban structures.
Therefore, the specific methodology suggested by the WMO guidance was applied, which,
together with the physical analysis of the sites, accompanies a social evaluation of the use
of the places to determine the best opportunities for choosing and applying ecosystem
services.
The elements of the guidance considered in the study are reported in Figure 1. Even
if the elements considered in the guidance are considerably higher than those used in
the study, this limitation was made because the municipality mainly requests the urban
response to heat waves.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, x FOR PEER REVIEW 3 of 13
This index, introduced in the General Urban Plan [29], now provides indications to
construction companies and stakeholders on which values must be respected by operat-
ing in the different areas of the city.
Adopting that methodology already represents a basic level of protection for the
population’s health. However, it remains of great importance to define how to imple-
ment specific protections according to the typology of the resident population, with the
use of the places, and the specific characteristics of the micro architectural-urban struc-
tures. Therefore, the specific methodology suggested by the WMO guidance was applied,
which, together with the physical analysis of the sites, accompanies a social evaluation of
the use of the places to determine the best opportunities for choosing and applying eco-
system services.
The elements of the guidance considered in the study are reported in Figure 1. Even
if the elements considered in the guidance are considerably higher than those used in the
study, this limitation was made because the municipality mainly requests the urban re-
sponse to heat waves.
Figure 1. Elements of the WMO guidance [21] utilized for the present study.
The solutions identified by the Adaptation Plan are the actions and interventions
based on a widespread application of ecosystem services represented by: urban parks,
pocket parks, road trees, cool materials, and permeable floors. The decision to operate at
this level was assumed considering that it is possible to intervene in the urban compo-
nents (the streets, the squares, the green and water system, the buildings and materials
present) that make up these paths as refreshment places where the fragile population can
find relief from the thermal regime of the city. Thus, following the general frame indi-
cated by the WMO guidance, the authors identified four pillars to assist policymakers in
urban regeneration:
The identification of the vulnerabilities of places and areas of aggregation for weaker
groups of municipal property and properties of public interest.
The detection of natural/environmental elements or particular conditions (including
risk) in the weaker groups aggregation areas and, more generally, in the area.
The selection of actions that mitigate the physiological climatic problem in the iden-
tified vulnerable points.
Verification of the microclimate modeling of the selected project scenarios using
microclimate modeling tools (ex-post simulations with ENVI-met [30]) regarding
the specific objectives of each strategy.
In the study, five sensitive districts of Bologna were considered because the munic-
ipality had some concerns regarding the level of well-being of the resident population.
Figure 1. Elements of the WMO guidance [21] utilized for the present study.
The solutions identified by the Adaptation Plan are the actions and interventions based
on a widespread application of ecosystem services represented by: urban parks, pocket
parks, road trees, cool materials, and permeable floors. The decision to operate at this level
was assumed considering that it is possible to intervene in the urban components (the
streets, the squares, the green and water system, the buildings and materials present) that
make up these paths as refreshment places where the fragile population can find relief from
the thermal regime of the city. Thus, following the general frame indicated by the WMO
guidance, the authors identified four pillars to assist policymakers in urban regeneration:
The identification of the vulnerabilities of places and areas of aggregation for weaker
groups of municipal property and properties of public interest.
The detection of natural/environmental elements or particular conditions (including
risk) in the weaker groups’ aggregation areas and, more generally, in the area.
The selection of actions that mitigate the physiological climatic problem in the identi-
fied vulnerable points.
Verification of the microclimate modeling of the selected project scenarios using
microclimate modeling tools (ex-post simulations with ENVI-met [
30
]) regarding the
specific objectives of each strategy.
In the study, five sensitive districts of Bologna were considered because the munic-
ipality had some concerns regarding the level of well-being of the resident population.
However, applying the methodology to the entire city is very time-consuming. Therefore,
the current main limitation to a punctual application of this method is the extensive cal-
culation time necessary for the characterization of the different urban elements and the
calculation of the well-being indices. However, this current limitation can be overcome
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 15056 4 of 13
by outsourcing the analysis to private companies or using cloud-computing techniques.
Otherwise, it is possible to conduct only one analysis on specific frailties.
3. Results and Discussion
For the five sensitive city districts (Figure 2) specific cards were developed for this
study to assist in the regeneration by the urban planners, the architects, the urban agronomists,
and the social scientists. A category of cards was based on the neighborhood layout as mor-
phology, the green and tree areas, and the ENVI-met-run simulations during a heat wave.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, x FOR PEER REVIEW 4 of 13
However, applying the methodology to the entire city is very time-consuming. Therefore,
the current main limitation to a punctual application of this method is the extensive cal-
culation time necessary for the characterization of the different urban elements and the
calculation of the well-being indices. However, this current limitation can be overcome
by outsourcing the analysis to private companies or using cloud-computing techniques.
Otherwise, it is possible to conduct only one analysis on specific frailties.
3. Results and Discussion
For the five sensitive city districts (Figure 2) specific cards were developed for this
study to assist in the regeneration by the urban planners, the architects, the urban
agronomists, and the social scientists. A category of cards was based on the neighbor-
hood layout as morphology, the green and tree areas, and the ENVI-met-run simulations
during a heat wave.
Figure 2. Map of the sensitive city districts of Bologna analyzed in the study.
The second category of card details, on a smaller scale, was a single urban feature,
such as a square or a street, where the fragilities that emerged in terms of well-being and
the possible regeneration actions, served to increase resilience, in particular, that of
health. Finally, the third and last category of cards defined the criticalities of individual
urban elements and directly suggested the mitigation techniques applicable in that spe-
cific context, being also cross-checked with the public administration for both the feasi-
bility of the proposed solution and the lack of collision with any other choices made
during the planning phase.
Figure 2. Map of the sensitive city districts of Bologna analyzed in the study.
The second category of card details, on a smaller scale, was a single urban feature,
such as a square or a street, where the fragilities that emerged in terms of well-being
and the possible regeneration actions, served to increase resilience, in particular, that of
health. Finally, the third and last category of cards defined the criticalities of individual
urban elements and directly suggested the mitigation techniques applicable in that specific
context, being also cross-checked with the public administration for both the feasibility of
the proposed solution and the lack of collision with any other choices made during the
planning phase.
Specifically, the results achieved for the Corticella district of Bologna are reported.
This district is densely populated with a high resident population age, and some indus-
trial infrastructures are in operation and disused. For these reasons, the district is given
particular attention by the public administration.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 15056 5 of 13
Five vulnerabilities have been identified in the Corticella area to focus attention
on (Figure 3), and the study has gone into a detailed scale, with related proposals for
possible actions.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, x FOR PEER REVIEW 5 of 13
Specifically, the results achieved for the Corticella district of Bologna are reported.
This district is densely populated with a high resident population age, and some indus-
trial infrastructures are in operation and disused. For these reasons, the district is given
particular attention by the public administration.
Five vulnerabilities have been identified in the Corticella area to focus attention on
(Figure 3), and the study has gone into a detailed scale, with related proposals for possi-
ble actions.
Figure 3. Card 1: Identification of vulnerabilities in the map of the air temperature at 1.8 m at 2 p.m.
simulated in the Corticella area and the ortho-photo taken from Google Maps updated to 2019.
In Figure 3, vulnerabilities and the presence of places representing moments of so-
cial aggregation, which are of particular environmental sensitivity, are highlighted. For
example, the presence of a school or a church immediately raises the problem of pro-
tecting vulnerable groups, represented in this case by children or the elderly. In these
areas, particular attention must be paid to the issue of place regeneration. In fact, for zone
5, the school, a strong element of discomfort, generated presumably by local materials
and the absence of vegetation, is evident from the microclimatic analysis.
In card 2 (Figure 4), there is an in-depth analysis of a vulnerability point that
emerged for Corticella, already evidenced in card 1, to better understand the actions de-
scribed and show what can be understood by safety paths. In this case, the card, as well
as identifying vulnerability, indicates possible adaptation interventions for the problems
highlighted. Therefore, the level two cards want to solve the issues related to the use of
the city, such as the protection of the elderly in their compulsory travel to access services.
Figure 3.
Card 1: Identification of vulnerabilities in the map of the air temperature at 1.8 m at 2 p.m.
simulated in the Corticella area and the ortho-photo taken from Google Maps updated to 2019.
In Figure 3, vulnerabilities and the presence of places representing moments of social
aggregation, which are of particular environmental sensitivity, are highlighted. For example,
the presence of a school or a church immediately raises the problem of protecting vulnerable
groups, represented in this case by children or the elderly. In these areas, particular
attention must be paid to the issue of place regeneration. In fact, for zone 5, the school, a
strong element of discomfort, generated presumably by local materials and the absence of
vegetation, is evident from the microclimatic analysis.
In card 2 (Figure 4), there is an in-depth analysis of a vulnerability point that emerged
for Corticella, already evidenced in card 1, to better understand the actions described and
show what can be understood by safety paths. In this case, the card, as well as identifying
vulnerability, indicates possible adaptation interventions for the problems highlighted.
Therefore, the level two cards want to solve the issues related to the use of the city, such as
the protection of the elderly in their compulsory travel to access services.
Once the microclimatic fragility of the specific environments has been identified, such
as those reported in the cards proposed in the example, it is necessary to move on to the
implementation phase of the regeneration through the application of NBSs. Unfortunately,
historic cities, which in Europe represent a large part of the cultural and built heritage, are
very rigid for a complete application of all available techniques. In particular, in structural
terms, such as the blue and the gray, citizens often oppose those that involve a profound
transformation because they require long construction periods with strong consequential
impacts on urban mobility. Furthermore, the city regeneration with vast green infrastruc-
tures also encounters a certain level of resistance from the population due to the substantial
reduction in parking spaces, the perceived safety, and the gentrification effects [
31
35
].
Although presenting these problems as a perception of one side of the citizenry, many
techniques of active participation have been experimented with to ensure higher social
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 15056 6 of 13
acceptability of regeneration through vegetation, and also through the application of shared
governance [3638].
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, x FOR PEER REVIEW 6 of 13
Figure 4. Card 2: Description of Corticella-specific vulnerability corresponding to Point 2 of the
previous card, with possible related actions.
Once the microclimatic fragility of the specific environments has been identified,
such as those reported in the cards proposed in the example, it is necessary to move on to
the implementation phase of the regeneration through the application of NBSs. Unfor-
tunately, historic cities, which in Europe represent a large part of the cultural and built
heritage, are very rigid for a complete application of all available techniques. In particular,
in structural terms, such as the blue and the gray, citizens often oppose those that involve
a profound transformation because they require long construction periods with strong
consequential impacts on urban mobility. Furthermore, the city regeneration with vast
green infrastructures also encounters a certain level of resistance from the population due
to the substantial reduction in parking spaces, the perceived safety, and the gentrification
effects [31–35]. Although presenting these problems as a perception of one side of the
citizenry, many techniques of active participation have been experimented with to ensure
higher social acceptability of regeneration through vegetation, and also through the ap-
plication of shared governance [3638].
In the third card category, the analyses and proposals relating to the deeper level of
urban regeneration are reported. The objective here is to solve specific exposures of the
fragile population to a substantial risk due to the specificities of microscale urban plan-
Figure 4.
Card 2: Description of Corticella-specific vulnerability corresponding to Point 2 of the
previous card, with possible related actions.
In the third card category, the analyses and proposals relating to the deeper level of
urban regeneration are reported. The objective here is to solve specific exposures of the
fragile population to a substantial risk due to the specificities of microscale urban planning.
During structuring these actions, it is essential to take full advantage of all the urban
features and components that structure the area in which the intervention is carried out. In
the example (Figure 5), the goal is to create stopping and crossing points that guarantee a
restorative “stop” or a “journey” for the weakest groups. Interventions near the pedestrian
crossing can be assumed, generating shaded areas through the planting of trees and the
generation of pocket parks, operating in some areas used for parking, and the desealing
works. Some useful technical information about how to conduct a proper desealing is
reported in the outcomes of the EU Life Project “SOS4Life” [
39
,
40
]. These small parks could
also act as receptors for excess water in extreme rainfall. Suppose that there is a pre-existing
garden in the proximity of the target site. In that case, its extension could be hypothesized,
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 15056 7 of 13
for example, by giving up portions of the sidewalk and immediately adjacent parking
spaces to amplify the “urban forest” effect to the benefit of the immediately adjacent block.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, x FOR PEER REVIEW 7 of 13
ning. During structuring these actions, it is essential to take full advantage of all the ur-
ban features and components that structure the area in which the intervention is carried
out. In the example (Figure 5), the goal is to create stopping and crossing points that
guarantee a restorative “stop or a “journey” for the weakest groups. Interventions near
the pedestrian crossing can be assumed, generating shaded areas through the planting of
trees and the generation of pocket parks, operating in some areas used for parking, and
the desealing works. Some useful technical information about how to conduct a proper
desealing is reported in the outcomes of the EU Life ProjectSOS4Life [39,40]. These
small parks could also act as receptors for excess water in extreme rainfall. Suppose that
there is a pre-existing garden in the proximity of the target site. In that case, its extension
could be hypothesized, for example, by giving up portions of the sidewalk and immedi-
ately adjacent parking spaces to amplify the “urban foresteffect to the benefit of the
immediately adjacent block.
Figure 5. Card 3: More detailed level of intervention in the urban structure according to the use of
space. The proposed crossroads were analyzed for the presence of a Pharmacy (Farmacia) repre-
senting a hot spot for the fragile population. On the right is a possible regeneration solution for the
site. While on the left is an indication to the municipality for the reduction in parking lots to be
substituted by small green areas.
The level of card 3, the deepest in the urban texture, allows for targeted substitutions
in terms of urban decor and the development of spatial connections (routes for use by the
elderly) protected in bioclimatic terms, and to correct errors of planning and site policies
to better protect population health [4143].
Even though the study was developed to be applied over the entire Bologna Mu-
nicipality, the historical center of the city is characterized by a strong lack of vegetation
coverage and a highly fragile population, mostly the elderly. Thus, specific attention was
devoted to the application of NBSs in this part of the city.
In the broad overview of NBSs, which presents a high adaptive capacity in a rigid
structure like the medieval city, and with a low divisive capacity on social issues, the
pocket park is the most practical solution to respond to the theme of adaptation. Unlike
large parks, where studies have allowed us to easily define the microclimatic effects of
their presence [44–47], for pocket parks, there are no simple parameterizations capable of
Figure 5.
Card 3: More detailed level of intervention in the urban structure according to the use of
space. The proposed crossroads were analyzed for the presence of a Pharmacy (Farmacia) representing
a hot spot for the fragile population. On the right is a possible regeneration solution for the site.
While on the left is an indication to the municipality for the reduction in parking lots to be substituted
by small green areas.
The level of card 3, the deepest in the urban texture, allows for targeted substitutions
in terms of urban decor and the development of spatial connections (routes for use by the
elderly) protected in bioclimatic terms, and to correct errors of planning and site policies to
better protect population health [4143].
Even though the study was developed to be applied over the entire Bologna Mu-
nicipality, the historical center of the city is characterized by a strong lack of vegetation
coverage and a highly fragile population, mostly the elderly. Thus, specific attention was
devoted to the application of NBSs in this part of the city.
In the broad overview of NBSs, which presents a high adaptive capacity in a rigid
structure like the medieval city, and with a low divisive capacity on social issues, the
pocket park is the most practical solution to respond to the theme of adaptation. Unlike
large parks, where studies have allowed us to easily define the microclimatic effects of
their presence [
44
47
], for pocket parks, there are no simple parameterizations capable of
providing micrometeorological and bioclimatic effects. It is, therefore, necessary to proceed
with the characterization of the ex-ante as per the proposed sheets for the evaluation of
urban fragilities and then carry out, case by case, the ex-post runs of models such as ENVI-
met to verify the project effects on the infrastructure. In general, it can be said that these
effects are positive on the livability of the urban environment and allow the construction of
bioclimatic safety paths for the fragile population [4850].
The recent economic problems also increased the impact on the elderly population
because the average low-income (the social pension is about 400–600 euros p.c.) forces
people to shop at great distances to save money. Moreover, recent studies have demon-
strated the inability of elderly and frail people to travel distances without appropriate
recovery stops. In general, healthy subjects (i.e., those without functional alterations) can
walk from 400 to 700 m in the time of the test (in which the proximity theories used for
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 15056 8 of 13
the realization of neighborhood services are found); a value below 400 m is already an
indication of a poor functional capacity. For elderly and frail subjects, average values are
considered to be those around 300–400 m in subjects with good functional capacity and
less than 300 m in subjects with poor functional capacity. Furthermore, it was also assumed
that these distances should be revised, as they are overestimated [
51
53
]. These distances
are calculated without considering an unfavorable urban microclimate, such as during a
heat wave, so a distance of fewer than 100 m acquires even more relevance.
In a city like Bologna, it could be important to estimate if the vulnerable population
can reach several pocket parks to ensure bioclimatic protection. The pocket parks allow
the creation of safety paths and facilitate access to essential services. For this reason, an
analysis of the possible obtainable spaces for pocket parks from urban parking spaces was
carried out.
The elderly population (+65) in Bologna is about 96,000 persons out of a total of
392,000 [
54
], and the number of young people (<14) is about 45,000. This means that the
potential effects of a regeneration involve a large portion of the total resident population
which is referred to as potentially fragile.
The way in which it is possible to obtain space to design pocket parks is just by
suppressing several public parking spaces.
The number of parking spaces within the ancient medieval walls (Figure 6), corre-
sponding to the city center, is around 10,000. A pocket park with sufficient space for rest
and recreation for 3–4 persons is around 25-m squares, corresponding to the equivalent
area covered by two parking spaces. Renouncing 10% of the spaces is reasonable without
producing strong social opposition and makes available an area of 12,500 square meters
for de-sealing, enough for about 500 pocket parks. Considering the total area of the center
of Bologna, the pocket park density would be one every 8600 square meters. This surface
area means that the response to the need for proximity is a pocket park planned for every
100–200 linear meters. Thus, the weaker sections of the population would be provided with
a microclimatic security area to stop and regenerate. The existing public green infrastruc-
tures of the city center (in Figure 7, the green polygons that include grass and tree species)
inside the walls today cover 381,000 square meters; assuming the addition of 12,500 square
meters of pocket parks throughout the historic city, equally distributed, means a total of
393,500 sq.m. Pocket parks would therefore account for 3.3% of the total area of public
parks, but their location would make the difference from a microclimatic point of view.
Figure 7represents the streets of the city within the walls in which the parking spaces
have been registered, and using this as a first approximate representation, if each point
is assumed as the creation of a pocket park, they represent the coverage that would be
guaranteed from a point of view of the physiological well-being of the weaker groups.
With regards to the potential decrease in air temperature, applying the linear formula-
tion proposed for the city of Bologna, with the vegetation introduced by the pocket parks,
a value of less than 1% would be obtained. However, it is highly questionable to apply a
parameterization obtained on the more massive presence of vegetation outside the historic
center by directly adding the value of the scattered vegetation placeable inside the historic
city walls, even if the parameterization is linear. However, the direct shading effects for the
population that would benefit from the ecosystem service offered by this are certainly to be
considered positive.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 15056 9 of 13
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, x FOR PEER REVIEW 9 of 13
Figure 6. Location of the historical city walls with an included area of 4,300,000 square meters.
Figure 6. Location of the historical city walls with an included area of 4,300,000 square meters.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, x FOR PEER REVIEW 9 of 13
Figure 6. Location of the historical city walls with an included area of 4,300,000 square meters.
Figure 7.
The map of the historical center inside the walls highlights the existing green areas in green
and the streets for which parking spaces have been registered in yellow. The blue grid has a mesh of
100
×
100 m and aims to bring out the potential impact of pocket parks on the stiffer historical fabric
of the municipal area.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 15056 10 of 13
4. Conclusions
The application of the methodology, which has its roots in the WMO guidance, has
shown that it can highlight urban criticalities with a potential impact on the physiological
equilibrium of the population in general, but with particular regard for the vulnerable.
Moreover, this methodology on the whole urban texture would allow the solving and
reconciliation of spaces for the bioclimatically fragile and social use. In particular, the
structure of the cards allows the public administration to ‘observe’ the city at different
levels of complexity and to see if these levels harmonize with a typical design.
The different levels of description or in-depth analysis of the maps ensure a multi-role
service to planners, allowing them first to grasp the vulnerabilities arranged over a large
area or neighborhood and then deepen them at an urban matrix level, including factors
relating to the accessibility of places in the protection of the physiological parameters of the
weaker groups. Further still, in the deeper level of description, the ability presents itself to
operate on the individual elements of the urban texture by proposing operational solutions.
Applying this methodology requires a good database of data and knowledge of
the territory and its use by the population. It can therefore be foreseen that its possible
application is preferably addressed to medium to large cities.
It was demonstrated that converting a limited number of parking plots (10%) into
pocket parks can assure the fragile population with rest and safety spaces within the
physiological indications of the international scientific bibliography.
The original outcome of this study indicates for European Medieval cities, a useful
approach is to apply at least one adaptation tool, even if the specific “rigidity” of the
architectural context does not allow deep infrastructural intervention.
As already highlighted, a problem for large cities relates to the calculation time to
solve the individual urban characteristics that can hardly be solved directly by the public
administration. However, the problem can be generally solved by externalizing the ENVI-
met fluid dynamics model’s initialization and calculation.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, L.C., T.G. and M.N.; methodology, L.C. and M.N.; soft-
ware, L.C. and M.N.; validation, L.C.; formal analysis, M.N. and T.G.; investigation, L.C., T.G. and
M.N.; resources, L.C., T.G. and M.N.; data curation, L.C.; writing—original draft preparation, L.C.
and T.G.; writing—review and editing, L.C., T.G. and M.N.; visualization, L.C., T.G. and M.N.;
supervision, T.G.; project administration, T.G.; funding acquisition, T.G. All authors have read and
agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
Funding:
This research received funding from the Bologna Municipality for the development of
methodologies to protect the fragile population (Grant DD/PRO/2019/6085). The funds were
attributed via Institutional Agreements controlled by the respective Governmental and Local Admin-
istrations, respecting a code of conduct of the National legislation.
Institutional Review Board Statement: Not applicable.
Informed Consent Statement: Not applicable.
Acknowledgments:
The authors thank the Bologna Municipality for the study’s economic support
and for providing the urban dataset and in particular the Mobility Systems Office, Sustainable
Mobility and Infrastructure Sector, Piazza Liber Paradisus, 10, Bologna, for the data regarding the
parking spaces utilized in the study. The F.I.U. (Urban Innovation Foundation) for the support in
creating the relationships between the researcher and policymakers. They wish to also thank ARPAE
(the Regional Environmental Agency) for providing the meteorological and climate data. They also
wish to thank Stefania Toselli for the helpful discussion.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022,19, 15056 11 of 13
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Remotely sensed Land Surface Temperature (LST) is widely used to characterize Surface Urban Heat Island (SUHI) intensity and spatial variability. SUHI may differ significantly from the Urban Heat Island (UHI), which is related to air temperature and is more representative of human wellbeing. The lack of information and results on UHI development is due to the difficulty in having measurements with high spatial density within the city and the uncertainties in finding relationships between air and surface temperatures. Characterizing UHI is fundamental when dealing with human thermal wellbeing especially when extreme events occur. A new index, named Urban Heatwave Thermal Index (UHTI), was presented here to quantify daytime air temperature variability patterns in an urban environment during a meteorological heatwave. UHTI integrates a) air temperature recorded by local sensors; b) structural microclimatic Envi-met fluidodynamic modeling simulations; and c) remotely sensed environmental indicators. UHTI is a reliable representation of thermal criticalities in the city for its inhabitants. A case study on Bologna (Italy) municipality is presented. Moreover, UHTI was calculated and compared with the Urban Thermal Field Variance Index (UTFVI), commonly used for urban climate characterization. Results showed a high degree of correlation (R2 = 0.795) between the two indexes; residual mapping and hot-spot detection indicated that their biggest differences are next to dense urban fabric areas like historical centers and water body areas.
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Excess mortality not directly related to the virus has been shown to have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, changes in heat-related mortality during the pandemic have not been addressed in detail. Here, we performed an observational study crossing daily mortality data collected in Portugal (SICO/DGS) with high-resolution temperature series (ERA5/ECMWF), characterizing their relation in the pre-pandemic, and how it aggravated during 2020. The combined result of COVID-19 and extreme temperatures caused the largest annual mortality burden in recent decades (~ 12 000 excess deaths [~ 11% above baseline]). COVID-19 caused the largest fraction of excess mortality during March to May (62%) and from October onwards (85%). During summer, its direct impact was residual, and deaths not reported as COVID-19 dominated excess mortality (553 versus 3 968). A prolonged hot spell led mortality to the upper tertile, reaching its peak in mid-July (+ 45% deaths/day). The lethality ratio (+ 14 deaths per cumulated ºC) was higher than that observed in recent heatwaves. We used a statistical model to estimate expected deaths due to cold/heat, indicating an amplification of at least 50% in heat-related deaths during 2020 compared to pre-pandemic years. Our findings suggest mortality during 2020 has been indirectly amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the disruption of healthcare systems and fear of population in attending healthcare facilities (expressed in emergency room admissions decreases). While lockdown measures and healthcare systems reorganization prevented deaths directly related to the virus, a significant burden due to other causes represents a strong secondary impact. This was particularly relevant during summer hot spells, when the lethality ratio reached magnitudes not experienced since the 2003 heatwaves. This severe amplification of heat-related mortality during 2020 stresses the need to resume normal healthcare services and public health awareness.
Article
Urban parks are a major blue–green infrastructure in urban ecosystems, and they are widely regarded as being extremely effective in mitigating the urban heat island (UHI) effect caused by extensive urbanization and high temperatures associated with climate change. A scientific understanding of the cooling effects of urban parks can assist urban planning and decision makers in mitigating the UHI effect and improving urban sustainability. However, little is known about the cooling effects of parks from an accumulation-impact perspective resulting from spatial continuity. In this study, 31 urban parks in Fuzhou, China, were identified using Landsat data, and the land surface temperature was calculated using the radiative transfer equation (RTE) algorithm. Two accumulation-impact cooling indices, the park cooling intensity (PCI) and the park cooling gradient (PCG), and two maximum-impact cooling indices, the park cooling area (PCA) and the park cooling efficiency (PCE), were then used to explore the park cooling effects. The park area and park perimeter were found to be positively and significantly correlated with the PCA, PCI, and PCG and negatively and significantly correlated with the PCE. The results showed that 61% of urban park areas were situated within “cold-spot areas” with respect to the land surface temperature. A ward system cluster analysis showed that the 31 urban parks could be classified into three cooling capacity bundles based on the four normalized park cooling indices, each of which exhibited different cooling effects. The concept of the threshold value of efficiency (TVoE) based on the park cooling gradient was then calculated to determine the optimal park size. The TVoE was determined as 1.08 ha, which implies that urban park planning should consider designing urban parks of this size because they provide the most effective improvement in urban thermal comfort. These findings are valuable for providing a comprehensive understanding of the cooling effects of urban parks and providing implications for sustainable urban planning and design.