Miami has one. Should Atlanta? The case for a Chief Heat Officer.

A bridge going over a pond at Cook Park in Atlanta.
Cook Park opened in the Atlanta neighborhood of Vine City last summer. Mayor Andre Dickens said he wants to focus both on adding new greenspace and improving existing parks. (Molly Samuel/WABE)

The first half of this year was Atlanta’s fourth-warmest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The city has one official cooling center in the Old Fourth Ward. So far this year, the center’s doors were opened for less than one week, and there’s no formal plan to aid the public in getting there.

That’s during a metro Atlanta summer marked by record-high temperatures, especially in the month of June, according to the National Weather Service. A NWS forecaster noted across metro Atlanta, this June was the sixth warmest on-record based on average temperature.

Mayor Andre Dickens’s office tells WABE there are several plans currently happening or in the works to deal with increasing extreme heat. Those include giving free public access to the city’s pools and rec centers, increasing tree canopy through green infrastructure projects, and the city partnering with students and community members to map out urban ‘heat islands.’

What Atlanta doesn’t have is a formal office tasked with studying heat.

Jane Gilbert is the Chief Heat Officer for Miami Dade County. It’s a relatively new position that’s just been given more priority— even in a city with its NBA team named for how dangerous the heat can be.

Gilbert recently spoke with WABE’s “All Things Considered” about what plan of action Atlanta needs to take to further cool off its residents, beginning by talking about the projects she’s tackled in Miami-Dade over the last year.

This story is part of WABE’s The Heat Effect series.