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Efforts to Build Resilience as an Approach to Improving Quality of Life in Cities

Paris, meanwhile, is redesigning and opening green schoolyards as cooler places for locals to escape extreme heat

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Resilience, Life, Cities
FILE - People cool off in the fountains of the Trocadero gardens, in front of the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, June 28, 2019. VOA

In the Dutch port city of Rotterdam, nine “water plazas” have been created that soak up excess rainfall while offering people a green space to meet and children to play.

The city is also planting gardens and putting solar panels on a growing area of its nearly 20 square kilometers (8 square miles) of flat roofs.

Paris, meanwhile, is redesigning and opening green schoolyards as cooler places for locals to escape extreme heat, while in New Zealand, Wellington is rolling out neighborhood water supplies to keep the taps on when an earthquake hits.

More than 70 cities that are part of the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) network, set up in 2013, have crafted “resilience strategies” that include about 3,500 activities designed to combat shocks and stresses – everything from floods to an influx of refugees.

Resilience, Life, Cities
In the Dutch port city of Rotterdam, nine “water plazas” have been created that soak up excess rainfall while offering people a green space to meet and children to play. Pixabay

The United Nations estimates that by 2050 nearly 70% of the world’s population will live in cities, which are increasingly impacted by extreme weather and sea level rise, while producing about 75% of planet-warming emissions.

Michael Berkowitz, president of 100 Resilient Cities, told a gathering of the network’s cities in Rotterdam on Tuesday that efforts to build resilience had now become established as an approach to improving quality of life in cities.

Those efforts to keep people safe and well in the face of rising climate, economic and social pressures will continue, despite the closure this month of the organization that helped them craft those plans, officials said.

At the end of July, 100RC will shut its offices after the New York-based Rockefeller Foundationsaid in April it would no longer fund the body, having given about $176 million for its work.

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That funding helped pay initial salaries for chief resilience officers in member cities, for example, though about 80% of the cities now have made the role a part of their staff, 100RC officials said.

The Rockefeller Foundation said on Monday it would provide an additional $8 million over 18 months to help 100RC cities and their chief resilience officers transition to a network they will lead themselves.

“Ultimately, we aim to ensure continued collaboration and sharing among cities to address some of their most pressing challenges,” Rockefeller Foundation President Rajiv Shah said in a statement.

Expansion Ahead?

Resilience, Life, Cities
The city is also planting gardens and putting solar panels on a growing area of its nearly 20 square kilometers (8 square miles) of flat roofs. VOA

Krishna Mohan Ramachandran, chief resilience officer for the Indian city of Chennai, which has just launched its resilience strategy, said he was relieved it would be able to carry on with planned projects.

Those include conserving scarce water, putting vegetable gardens in schools, and finding less risky but nearby locations for flood-threatened communities, among others.

Rotterdam chief resilience officer Arnoud Molenaar, who led colleagues in lobbying for extra funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, said resilience work had garnered more support and created more value in cities than was often appreciated.

The Rockefeller bridge grant meant the network would now have time to raise more money from donors and others to stand on its own, and expand partnerships with politicians, communities and businesses, Molenaar said.

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Elizabeth Yee, who moved from 100RC to The Rockefeller Foundation to manage its climate and resilience work, said there was a “huge” amount of money looking for resilient urban infrastructure projects, but cities often struggled to meet investor requirements.

She said a key to finding funding was to design a bus rapid transit system or a clean power plant, for example, to also create local jobs and make communities more economically secure.

“I am hopeful that we can keep helping cities develop those projects and getting them ready for bigger, broader investment,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the sidelines of the conference in Rotterdam.

Cities in the 100RC network have so far raised $25 billion from their own budgets, businesses and other sources to put their resilience plans into practice, 100RC’s Berkowitz said.

In a decade’s time, he said, he hoped urban resilience – with its holistic approach to multiple, modern-day stresses – would have become “an absolutely essential part of city government.”

For now, as cities rapidly expand and climate threats grow, much more such work will be needed, he said.

“Even 100 cities is a ridiculously small number of cities, compared to the world’s 10,000 cities,” he said. “We need more effort if we’re going to really win the battle of the 21st century, which is going to be fought in cities.” (VOA)

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This AI Tool Can Predict Mortality Of Heart Failure Patients

Researchers develop a tool that can predict mortality of heart failure patients

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heart
This artificial intelligence (AI) tool can predict life expectancy in heart failure patients. Pixabay

Researchers have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) tool to predict life expectancy in heart failure patients.

The machine learning algorithm based on de-identified electronic health, records data of 5,822 hospitalised or ambulatory patients with heart failure at UC San Diego Health in the US.

“We wanted to develop a tool that predicted life expectancy in heart failure patients, there are apps where algorithms are finding out all kinds of things, like products you want to purchase,” said Avi Yagil, Professor at University of California.

“We needed a similar tool to make medical decisions. Predicting mortality is important in patients with heart failure. Current strategies for predicting risk, however, are only modestly successful and can be subjective,” Yagil added.

From this model, a risk score was derived that determined low and high risk of death by identifying eight readily available variables collected for the majority of patients with heart failure:Diastolic blood pressure, Creatinine, Blood urea nitrogen, White blood cell count, Platelets, Albumin and Red blood cell distribution.

Yagil said the newly developed model was able to accurately predict life expectancy 88 per cent of the time and performed substantially better than other popular published models.

“This tool gives us insight, for example, on the probability that a given patient will die from heart failure in the next three months or a year,” said researcher Eric Adler.

Heart failure patients
The mortality of a heart failure patient can be predicted. Pixabay

“This is incredibly valuable. It allows us to make informed decisions based on a proven methodology and not have to look into a crystal ball,” he added.

The tool was additionally tested using de-identified patient data from the University of California San Francisco and a data base derived from 11 European medical centers.

“It was successful in those cohorts as well,” said Yagil.

“Being able to repurpose our findings in independent populations is of utmost importance, thus validating our methodology and its results,” Yagil added.

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Researchers said the partnership between physicists and cardiologists was critical to developing a reliable tool and extensive knowledge and experiences from both sides proved synergetic.

The study was published in the European Journal of Heart Failure. (IANS)