Heat Seek staff and volunteers install the temperature sensors at the beginning of heat season (Oct 1 - May 31), and they remain in place throughout the winter. The temperature sensors monitor the temperature by taking a reading once per hour. Readings are transmitted via wifi or 2G cellular data to our web app, where they are recorded in the tenant’s account. The web app incorporates the outdoor temperature, the time of day, and time of year in order to identify whether or not a building is in violation of NYC housing code. Tenants and their advocates can access our web app at any time to view their readings and can download heat logs for use in tenant-landlord negotiations and/or housing court.
Our web-connected temperature sensors—essentially a thermometer connected to the internet—provide an affordable, reliable, and easy-to-use method of collecting, storing, and analyzing temperature data from a single apartment, many apartments, or even a portfolio of buildings throughout the city. We automate the entire process to provide tenants with the objective data they need to get their heat restored.
Sensors can be installed throughout a building. Thanks to a generous grant from Google.org, Heat Seek has redesigned our sensors for the 2017-2018 winter season. Our new sensors:
- Include hourly temperature monitoring accurate to +/- .5 degrees celsius
- Also include humidity monitoring (new!)
- Incorporate a data logger and SD card, ensuring data is securely stored on the device even if internet connection is lost
- Combine sensors, power, and internet all on one device
The sensors now come in two flavors, wifi or 2G cellular. This means individuals with wifi can conveniently connect their sensor to their home wifi network. For individuals without home wifi, a SIM card and cellular data plan allows sensors to quickly access the internet, no matter where they are placed.
Last winter, the city received over 200,000 heat-related complaints from 37,000 unique buildings, concentrated in lower-income neighborhoods throughout Upper Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. We prioritize the neighborhoods that need it the most, working with our on-the-ground partners to reach tenants most at risk in the communities below. See where we worked last year.
data in action
Heat Seek sensors detect and track heating code violations in real time by taking temperature readings once an hour. Individuals, landlords, lawyers, and even city inspectors can use our web portal to view temperature data in real time and set alerts if the temperature drops below the legal limit. Tenants can also access a user-friendly temperature log that’s familiar to housing court judges. Heat seek sensors provide tenants with the objective data they need to get their heat restored.
Each analysis we produce is carefully constructed--our team uses a number of tools, methods and programming languages to extract meaningful information from a vast amount of data. Check out our github to see examples of our methods, and the detailed steps we’ve taken to construct our analyses and visualizations.
Heat Seek + Civic Tech
Heat Seek is more than just a tech startup. We’re civic hackers on a mission—to make NYC a more livable home for all residents. We believe that low cost, scalable technology has the power to drastically improve the lives of millions of New Yorkers while increasing the efficiency of government service provision. We’re providing a model for what a smarter city—one that embraces technology to solve real civic problems—can look like.
We strive to harness the power of technology to provide reliable, objective, accurate, and open data to make the world a better place to live and work.
We look for areas in which the lack of available data leaves the city unable to enforce its laws effectively, and courts unable to hold people accountable.
We create and supply affordable temperature sensors to aid tenants in their efforts to ensure their safety at home, and to aid landlords in their efforts to reduce energy waste and ensure buildings are efficiently and adequately heated;
We produce and provide tenants, landlords, government agencies and the public with real-time heating data that can be used, among other things, to verify complaints of violations of heating codes in court and other proceedings;
- We produce and provide the public with heating data useful for informing housing policy.