Examining Potential Inequities in the Spatial Distribution of Texas Triangle Cooling Centers
Due to the heat threats facing Texas, the intent of this research was to examine the spatial distributions of Texas Triangle cooling centers and evaluate the degree to which cooling centers are accessible. Spatial clustering and regression analyses were used to quantitatively characterize: 1) the spatial distributions of cooling centers in the three study metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs); 2) the level of cooling center accessibility; and 3) the relationships between indicators of socioeconomic vulnerability and cooling center accessibility. The results of the clustering analysis identified several notable similarities and differences in the spatial distributions of cooling centers across the MSAs. The significant level of clustering amongst cooling centers highlighted the potential for spatial redundancies in the network. The spatial distributions also illustrated possible accessibility issues based on the tendency of the cooling centers to concentrate in the urban cores of the MSAs and subsequently under-serve populations aged 65 years and over. In terms of accessibility, a limited number of census tracts were within walking distance to cooling centers but proximity to transit stops enhanced access. The regression modeling highlighted problematic relationships between vulnerability population groups and their proximities to the nearest cooling center. There was a general absence of significant relationships between the indicators of socioeconomic vulnerability and distance to the nearest cooling center for the MSAs' spatial lag regression models. Overall, this suggests that cooling centers often fail to prioritize vulnerable population groups.