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HeatHack 2022: Data Science Collabathon


-- Hacking solutions to address the challenge of climate change and urban heat in the Triangle

In the summer of 2021, Data-Driven Lab collaborated with the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science and the Town of Chapel Hill to pilot an urban heat data collection campaign in Chapel Hill. We identified neighborhoods that with high potential of heat exposure based on the Town of Chapel Hill's Extreme Heat Resiliency Assessment mapp.Then we equiped the volunteers with handheld Pocketlab sensors that collect individual-scale temperature, humidity, and location measurements. We mapped five of the most vulnerable hotspots in Chapel Hill, collecting more than 95 thousand data points. Combined with the car-based mobile monitoring conducted in the Raleigh/Durham area, we have high-resolution, spatial datasets of temperature for the entire RTP area. With these data, in addition to other data our lab has access to, we can ask questions such as, “What are the hottest parts of the triangle area, and why? How do green space and tree canopy patterns correspond to urban heat? Can we determine ‘thermal comfort’ zones and potential heat risk areas?”

To answer these questions, provide training, have impact, and provide hands-on fun, we propose a HeatHack 2021 Data Science Collabathon during the 2022 NC Science Festival. We want to bring coders, programmers, data visualization whizzes, and environmental enthusiasts together to help us distill actionable insights, develop engaging data visuals, and create action plans based on science for the RTP area to address the growing and intensifying challenge of climate change and urban heat.

Who can participate

This Collabathon is open to all! Whether you are a coder, data geek, or environmental enthusiast, you are welcomed to this event! No coding experience is required (but highly recommended).

Please note that participants under age 18 who planned to attend in person need to be accompanied by an adult.

The registration will close on April 15 at 5 pm. Register here

Important Links

  1. HeatHack Event Main Website
  2. Discord Channel

How it works


This hybrid in-person/remote one-day hackathon will bring together coders, programmers, data visualization whizzes, and environmental enthusiasts to help us discover actionable insights, develop engaging data visuals, and create action plans to address the growing and intensifying challenge of climate change and urban heat in the Triangle.

Data analysis can be completed using any programming languages and tools. There will be data mentors on site and online to support the team during the event. To help participants better prepare for the event, tutorials and resources are also posted on the main event page and the Tutorials section on this page.


Check out Team Matching setion to find your dream team! If you and your team will be participating the HeatHack virtually, please use the Discord channel to collaborate and seek for help!

Teams will have the opportunity throughout the day to ask for feedback as they develop their ideas and final products, and at the end, a panel of judges composed of community stakeholders will provide feedback and award prizes for the winning entries.


Please check out Datasets Description and Tackle Challenges section to learn more about the datasets and some prompts we provided to get start with.


Each team will be asked to submit a presentation to be considered for the prizes. At least one team member must present your project at the GSK full-dome theater. If your team will be attending virtually, and a member of the team cannot be present at the final presentation, you must send a recorded presentation to be eligible for prizes.

Judging and Scoring

Submissions will be evaluated on the Judging Criteria and Scoring. We encourage teams to be really creative in your final presentations - set up a dashboard, use ArcGIS Storymaps, create a website, pitch us a start-up idea!


Online Participation-- Discord

Morning Check-in and Food hub: The picnic area behind Morehead Planetarium. Click here to see the Google Map Location.


Morning Presentation --Howell Hall 115 howell_image

Reserved Workspace at Davie Hall

Davie Hall 101 Davie Hall 112 Davie Hall 301
DA101_image DA112_image DA301_image

GSK Fulldome Theater at Morehead Planetarium


Please note that this schedule will be updated

Last Edits: April 18th

Activity Location
8:30 am Check-in to get your HeatHack swags and pick up breakfast The picnic area behind Morehead Planetarium
9:00 am Introduction to HeatHack and Event Overview Howell Hall 115
9:30 am - 5 pm Hacking and preparing for the submission Davie Hall room 101, 112 and 301
12:00 pm Lunch Break The picnic area behind Morehead Planetarium
5:00 pm Submit your video recording or slides for presentation --
5:00 - 6:00 pm Pizza Break The picnic area behind Morehead Planetarium
6:00 -8:00 pm Final presentation and Prizes announcement GSK Fulldome Theater at Morehead Planetarium

Datasets Description

The heat data in HeatHack Datasets was created in collaboration with Data-Driven Lab (Chapel Hill) and the NC Museum of Life and Science(Durham and Raleigh) during HeatWatch campiagns in the summer of 2021. The datasets are also enriched with additonal variables, such as land cover, land surface temperature, etc for the hackers to start with.

All data can be download from this Github repository or google drive. Please see the Data Description for more details on the dataset.

Tackle Challenges

In the Google doc below, we’ve provided some prompts to help you and your team think about ways to use the heat data and other data to develop potential solutions for urban heat and climate change challenges in the Triangle. The first section includes some general questions to help you start thinking about issues related to urban heat. The second section provides a “starter pack” set of prompts that can be investigated using the pre-processed heat data and input variables provided in the “Data” folder above (please see the Data Description for more details). The third section includes questions on more advanced topics related to vulnerable populations and policy applications that might require you to find and incorporate other datasets. For both of the advanced sections, we’ve included links to other publicly available datasets that might help answer some of these questions, but feel free to look for and incorporate any other relevant datasets you might find on your own!

HeatHack Prompts


Team Matching

Team matching has officially started! If you are still looking for a team or participants to join your team, please use the Discord Channel to chat!

Suggested message to the channel:

Hi all, I am Xuewei. I am interested in topics: XXXX. I have some data analysis experience with my coursework and am comfortable with coding. I am in a team of 2 and still looking for another teammate who is good at statistical analysis. The last thing I ate was a waffle. #NeedTeammate or #NeedTeam

All teams are required to fill in this Team Matching form before the beginning of hacking (9:30 am on Saturday). Please note that only the teams that fill out the Team Matching form will be considered for the final presentation and prizes. You can fill out the form now with the current team and look for more teammates later.


We will provide food and snacks for in-person participants. Please grab your food and enjoy the nice weather (expected to be sunny and up to 74°) with your team. Please note that food and beverages are not allowed in the classrooms. *Updates: We will set up a food hub at the picnic area behind Morehead (please see info in the Location section). Please consider bringing your own plates/tupperware/silverware to help reduce the plastic and paper waste!

Special note on food: We have ordered vegetarian food and have limited gluten-free options. Snacks will also be provided during the day. If you may have concerns about food restrictions or allergies, please consider bringing your own food.

Panel of Judges

Max Cawley Myleigh Neill Shenekia Weeks
Max Cawley Myleigh Neill Shenekia Weeks
Program Manager for Public Engagement with Science
NC Museum of Life and Science
Instrumentation Technician
North Carolina State Climate Office
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Officer
Town of Chapel Hill


Fancy about more studies and event related to Urban Heat Island? Please check out here:

DDL releases 2021 Chapel Hill #HeatWatch data report

Urban Heat Island Temperature Mapping Campaign – Raleigh and Durham 2021

Chapel Hill #HeatWatch: How we used citizen science to map urban heat in Chapel Hill

The Global Surface UHI Explorer: An Interactive Map of Urban Heat

Disproportionate exposure to urban heat island intensity across major US cities



Intro to R

Base R Cheatsheet

Full List fo R Cheatsheet

Spatial Data Programming with R

Map Spatial Data in R


Intro to Python – Pandas

Python for Data Science Cheatsheet

Intro to Geopandas

Work with Rasters


This HeatHack 2022 Data Science Collabathon is a part of the NC Scifest led by Data-Driven Lab and the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science. Special thanks to our event partners: Town of Chapel Hill, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.


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