OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

#KEEPCOOL (Updated New Video 22/12)

We work with slum residents to crowd-source data to map, manage and build resilience to extreme heat.

Photo of Lubaina Rangwala
18 40

Written by


Urban heat has become a grave climate risk in Indian cities, causing an increase in heat-related deaths and illnesses, especially for vulnerable people living in slums. Much of this heat stress could be avoided through community resilience-building efforts and urban planning. We propose to enhance people’s resilience to heat in slums by working with residents and city authorities to fill a data gap, create heat maps and co-design solutions. Our project intends to create an analytical understanding of urban heat, inform urban planning and install solutions in urban slums. At the community level, information kiosks, water stations, cooling places, and SMS/ heat-emergency services may be installed within slums. At city level, an information database may inform the development of long-term urban heat strategies, plans & policies. The framework for this project is based on WRI’s Individual Resilience Indicators (IRIs), designed to evaluate urban resilience at multiple scales, from the individual citizen to the city level. In this system, individual citizens are viewed as active agents in resilience-building efforts within the broader urban context. The project involves 6 stages—research, data collection, analysis, co-design, implementation, and evaluation. For this project, the IRIs framework and approach will be tailored to an Indian context, and implemented in one slum community in the M-Ward in Mumbai, to understand impacts of heat stress on residents’ lives and livelihoods.


Primary beneficiaries include residents and outdoor workers of one slum in Mumbai. Secondary beneficiaries include community based organizations and trusts focused on health and quality of life. Other beneficiaries include municipal planners and local government officers. Individuals & institutions participating in the data collection, analysis & design process will benefit from solutions, as well as from the resilience inventory intended as an open-source data base, for future scalability.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports an increase in heatwaves in the 20th century (2007) and predicts a 2-4 Cº average national temperature rise in India by 2030. Heat poses significant health risks like dehydration, diarrhoea, fatigue and fatalities. Impacts include burdened healthcare systems and overall lost productivity, affecting people’s livelihoods. Slum communities are most vulnerable to heat stress through continuous exposure to spiking temperatures and poor access to adequate health services, cooling facilities or information. India’s population is projected to be 54% urban by 2050 (ACCCRN) and a lack of affordable housing will lead to growth in slum populations. Today, 50% of Mumbai's population, or 6 million people already live in slums. The national census estimates that over 60 million people in India live in degrading conditions. Urban slum dwellings are not designed to resist heat and are built with cheap materials like cement sheets, plastic covers, and corrugated tin sheets that absorb heat, creating stuffy and hot living conditions. Most slum residents work outdoors in the informal sector as construction laborers, vendors, domestic workers, or taxi and auto drivers. Lack of water and sanitation facilities exacerbate health risks; while poor mobility options result in more walking trips, invariably leaving them more exposed. Our project combines several Open IDEO design principles: Consider the system; Plan for the ordinary, not just the extraordinary; Design for gender equality; Design with, not for.


  • Yes, for two or more years


  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years


  • Yes


The World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global think tank that works at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. In India and Brazil, WRI is developing research and tools to integrate climate change adaptation into development initiatives in urban and rural communities.


WRI launched the Individual Resilience Indicators (IRIs) as a tool and framework through two pilot projects in the cities of Porto Alegre and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil in 2014. In Brazil, the research phase is now complete and we are moving into implementation. While working towards tangible outcomes for these cities, the pilots help refine our approach, and test the indicators as an effective tool for compiling data, enhancing resilience knowledge and contributing to strategies that cities can implement and monitor over time. We are working across offices in Brazil and India to make the IRIs globally relevant. Through our project in India, we aim to apply resilience indicators in the context of a specific climate impact, heat stress, and in a specific community context: a dense slum in Mumbai. This will allow WRI to scale the unit of analysis and problem-solving down to the individual level, while opening up new place-based solutions that address community concerns and urban needs.


To enhance resilience capacities within a community or city, analyses and solutions must consider various scales of impacts, needs and aspirations. There is a lack of measurement tools that provide this level of analytical information. The IRIs fill this gap by measuring, amongst others, inequality at the city level, social cohesion at the community level, and preparedness at the individual level. There is inadequate awareness of climate change in relation to increasing heat stress and preparedness among vulnerable groups. Heat is not perceived as a fatal threat in hot and humid Indian cities, but more as an impediment to productivity. This project correlates climate change trends with impacts at community level (assessing gender and age segregated data) to develop solutions that address ordinary, and extra-ordinary temperature events. The WRI team has worked in Mumbai over the last 8 years with government officials and municipal planners. This capacity can be leveraged to scale the project from community level to city level, to perceive heat as a hazard and a planning priority.


Process: What are the most appropriate technologies for collecting and analyzing data? Can we leverage ICT as an effective early warning system? To what extent is it possible to draw concrete analysis from quantitative with qualitative datasets? Engagement: How can we partner with community-based groups, cities and other stakeholders to reach and involve vulnerable populations? Impact: What are the best solutions for addressing heat stress? How can individual and community level data be aggregated and mainstreamed into other data sets to build resilience at the city scale? Can we influence municipal decision making to include illegal informal settlements in resilience strategies?


Heat stress in cities is a slow moving disaster that is yet not characterized as a natural disaster in most Indian cities (Reuters). Research has identified a significant knowledge and data gap on extreme heat (IIPH), and Indian cities have mobilized few resources to prevent/ manage (Reuters). In Mumbai, heat stress is not an extreme disaster, however with increasing density and temperature, it is increasingly becoming a health hazard for many. Slum dwellers live and work in transient environments with little capacity to influence their environments. There is a need for solutions that investigate and tackle heat as an emerging threat to vulnerable people in urban slum communities in India.


We started this idea in Brazil in 2014, and held two workshops in Rio de Janeiro and in Porto Alegre in 2015, to evaluate the indicators and gain feedback from beneficiaries. The events brought together city governments, Rio's data collection Institute, and FioCruz, (leading health think tank), slum community leaders, residents and the Civil Defence. The beneficiaries voted on the different indicator categories that were printed and displayed on sheets across the room. Participants used a set number of green and red stickers to vote for the most important (green) and least important (red) indicators, and made new suggestions. Analyzing the results, we were able to prioritize and eliminate indicators, and add suggestions. The feedback helped us make the indicators more relevant to each city’s context, and we are confident that the revised indicators will facilitate better engagement with slum residents. To understand the relevance and context of the problem of heat stress in slum communities in Mumbai, and gauge the interest in a community based information service like KEEP COOL, we conducted a few interviews with slum residents in Mumbai (video attached). All the residents we spoke to admitted they have little to no information about daily temperatures, and saw heat as a nuisance, not a health threat. With more access to information they would incorporate few preventive measures in their daily life, while ensuring better access to emergency/ daily health care services.


Slum residents, neighboring communities, and institutions (at ward & city level) will participate in resilience building efforts. Individuals, organizations and institutions will develop short and long term strategies to cope with climate stress and scale this effort from pilot strategies (in one slum community) to policy & institutional levels. We have reached out to data collection service providers, academic and community based organizations with existing networks in a slum that is exposed to heat stress. Our next steps include, identifying interested government, community based, and private sector partners, build contacts in one slum community, develop surveys and begin data collection.

How does your idea connect to the broader system of the city where you plan to implement?

Beneficiary feedback revealed that even with climate information slum residents lack the autonomy or authority to plan for, or adapt to climate change. The IRIs promote a systemic approach to managing urban heat stress by connecting data of three different levels: individual, community, and urban. Mumbai is divided into 227 electoral wards headed by Corporators with budgets for ward-level activities. Using the IRIs we will engage Corporators, municipal schools and hospitals and other city bodies through a political influence strategy to address structural inequalities and build urgent action on heat stress. With a strong data-driven evidence base on vulnerability to heat stress, we will help communities develop integrated roadmaps for actions including: short term strategies at community level (heat-aid kiosks), collaborate with job/ housing providers to articulate demands for the mid-term, and work towards long-term Heat Resilience strategies (with Corporators and other stakeholders).
View more

Team (2)

Lubaina's profile
Katerina's profile
Katerina Elias-Trostmann

Role added on team:

"Research Analyst. Lead coordinator in the project, responsible for research and development and project cooridnation in Brazil. Works closely with colleagues in India to adapt the Individual Resilience Indicators to the Indian context."


Join the conversation:

Photo of Chioma Ume

Hi Lubania!
Below is some feedback from our experts. We look forward to reading your responses!

The innovative aspect of this idea is generating data, although it is not clear what kind of and how much data will be generated. Cooling spaces, water provision etc are all temporary measures, are you proposing any long term solutions?

What are quick and simple ways you could better understand the problem and the needs of your beneficiaries now? 

This is a useful idea, but I'm looking for more detail on how the activities will result in real outcomes. You might consider taking the time now to develop a political influencing strategy and strategy for working with your targeted communities. I worry otherwise that the effort will only get as far as generating the data platform and won't have the local buy-in from funders, NGOs and government to act on these data, especially after your seed funding would expire.

Photo of Lubaina Rangwala

Hi Chioma, 
Thank you for this feedback, it has been very helpful in thinking through our proposal and adding new material to improve and support our idea. 

The IRIs are meant to be a long-term data collection, monitoring, evaluating and learning process. It will not only allow us to gather data on micro-climates and its impacts on everyday life in slum communities, but also empower governments to take necessary, long-term action through ward level, or city level resilience plans/ strategies. Based on more recent research and conversations, we have identified the M/E Ward in Mumbai as a site; we will identify one slum community in this ward to pilot our project.
The M/E Ward has a slum population of 77.55%, and the entire municipal ward has a human development index of a shocking 0.05, and was ranked the lowest in Mumbai’s human development report, 2009 as well. High exposure to the south east sun during the first half of the day, and high coastal humidity, the micro-climate in the M/E Ward ought to be very different. Moreover, poor conditions of health and nutrition, sanitation, education and insecure livelihoods, leave people extremely vulnerable to climate risks.  

Ways to better understand the problems and needs of our beneficiaries: Firstly, we need to understand whether people perceive urban heat as a risk? What are some of the causes of increased urban heat? (i.e. the perception of heat can be higher than a recorded temperature based on the local context- high exposure to air pollution, high heat island effect, poor built environments, and use of building materials that very good conductors of heat). Additionally, data on daily habits, amount of time spent outdoors, access to safe drinking water, and daily water consumption, and special measures they take to beat extreme heat, are some examples of behavioural data we will gather at the individual level. 

The need for a political strategy: by developing a robust political and institutional strategy we will ensure that data thus generated will lead to real outcomes that help build resilience to heat stress in slum communities. The IRIs view individuals as 'active agents' in the resilience building process, however, we understand that slum residents have long and lived histories of poverty and socio-economic inequalities. Their vulnerabilities, by and large, are an attribute of structural and systemic inequalities. Hence we acknowledge that a political and institutional strategy will not only help address systemic inequalities that make poor communities more vulnerable, but also shift the burden of becoming 'resilient' from the individual to a broader system of the city. We have sketched out a political influence strategy, as part of the last answer, as a start to this intent. 

Finally, by collecting data, we will analyse current levels of vulnerability and resilience to heat stress, and work with identified implementing agencies (community leaders, health agents, municipal planners, etc.) to develop a road map and Heat Strategy that includes short, medium and long-term solutions. Using the IRIs as a system of data collection, as well as empowerment, this project will create public awareness and motivate governments to take immediate and long-term actions commensurate with the gravity of the problem. Moreover, the IRIs will be measured periodically to create long-term data and an evidence base, to track resilience to heat stress, and may result in a continuous initiative by the city to manage heat stress.

Again thank you for the feedback. This process of thinking through these questions has helped improve/ clarify our proposal immensely. 

Lubaina & Katerina

Photo of Chioma Ume

Hi Lubaina & Katerina! Thanks for the detailed response. How do you envision using Amplify support for this project?

Photo of Lubaina Rangwala

Hi Chioma,
Wish you a very happy New Year! Apologies for my delayed reply. Both Katerina and I were away for the holidays.

The #KEEPCOOL project will use OpenIDEO support to develop and implement a model for heat early warning that enables slum residents of the M/E Ward in Mumbai, to do develop emergency responses for extreme heat events, learn about preventive methods, increase their knowledge on the risks of heat, access tools and information, and be better prepared to deal with heat stress. We seek both technical (advisory role) and financial support from OpenIDEO to develop the EWS through a cutting-edge human-centred design process that makes the most of the indicators system we have developed in Brazil. If we receive the full amount of available support, we will deliver the following activities: 

1. Preparatory phase: this includes staff time (two full-time staff with 6-8 yrs of experience) to develop initial relationships in the community and contextualise the individual resilience indicators (IRIs) to the Indian context; co-create survey forms, and hire a data collection agency. This team will continue to manage and execute the project going forward.
2. Data collection and building an IRI database: partner up with an ICT and data collection service provider focusing on social impact to administer surveys at household/ individual level, preferably using mobile phone technology. Moreover, all community members participating in the process will be duly compensated for their time. Hence this will be a significant cost—cost of vendor, participants’ time, and staff time.
3. Community engagement: holding a series of workshops to present data collected, understand and analyse the data, and co-create strategies for urban resilience. Engage other actors at community level—dispensaries, social workers, NGOs, labour providers, local schools etc. Here, we will most likely use local venues so operational costs will be low, but staff time, as well as AV equipment requirements must be included.
4. Developing the KEEP COOL Information Communication Technology: engage ICT partner to build this service either as a calling or SMS service. Also, scaling further this could be developed as an online application or information portal to continue monitoring feedback to update the data set and support other community based initiatives too.
5. Scale-up strategy: we will engage key stakeholders (political leaders, employers, housing agents, water and electricity brokers, and ward level corroborators) into the process of data collection upfront, and further to scale-up or implement strategies for resilience from community/ individual to neighbourhood/ ward levels. Ultimately we aim to incorporate/ influence a resilience planning approach using the IRIs as a form to map and manage heat (and other climate change) stress into the local area planning process for the entire M/E ward. To ensure success in scaling we will engage the ward level corporators upfront, as we initiate the data gathering process.

We are happy to provide a detailed account of activities, if that may be useful. Please let me know, my email is


View all comments