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Stephen Fong’s Richmond heat map project receives international recognition

Fong, an engineering professor, has won a Smart 50 Award for a project that collects data and maps heat islands in Richmond.

Man standing in blue shirt.
Stephen Fong, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering in the VCU College of Engineering. Photo courtesy VCU College of Engineering.

Stephen Fong, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering in the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Engineering, has won a 2019 Smart 50 Award for an urban heat island community mapping project in Richmond.

The awards are presented by Smart Cities Connect, the Smart Cities Connect Foundation and US Ignite for “the most innovative and influential work” in global smart cities projects. Applications from more than a dozen countries were submitted.

On an extremely hot July day in 2017, VCU engineering and arts students, scientists and community volunteers collected data throughout the city to measure its hottest spots. Using highly sensitive thermocouples to collect data in real time, they developed the first ground-based heat vulnerability map.

Fong’s award is in the category of community engagement, which covers policy, funding, commerce, inclusion and governance.

“It's certainly an honor to be considered and to be recognized for the collaborative work that is going on here in Richmond,” Fong said. “One of our hopes is that this recognition will help connect us with additional entities both locally and beyond to expand the impact of urban sustainability projects.”

The awards will be presented at an event April 1 as part of the Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo in Denver, Colorado.