Heat seek's partnership model

At Heat Seek, we partner with community organizations like Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA) and the Urban Justice Center to ensure that our sensors reach the tenants who need them most. These organizations are already doing tenant organizing around housing issues, and have an established presence in the communities in which they work. We rely on them for their expertise, leadership and on the ground connections to tenants in deploying our sensors to have the greatest impact they can. 

We also have a unique partnership with HPD, the city agency tasked with deploying inspectors to investigate heating code violations. By sharing our data with HPD inspectors, we’re illuminating trends in heating outages and allowing them to more efficiently conduct inspections, at the times when buildings are most likely to be in violation.

Started as a volunteer project to provide low-cost, web-connected temperature sensors to tenants facing heating harassment, our work has grown to reflect the much broader complexities of our housing and heating systems and the ecosystem of players working to make it better. Based on our research and evaluation with our partners, we’ve expanded our work to provide analysis of both temperature data and citywide data in an effort to provide new ways for advocates to target and reach at-risk tenants. Heat Seek will continue to explore how to best connect attorneys, organizers, other advocates, HPD, and other city government officials, through sensor data, external data analysis, and other sources.

Rather than a stand-alone data solution, our work is grounded in a deep respect for community organizers and on-the-ground advocates, and we seek to contribute services that meaningfully support their work.

Through a series of interviews conducted with key partners during the summer of 2016, Heat Seek has come to understand a particular pain point around proactively identifying new, high-risk buildings in which to organize and bring litigation in Housing Court.

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HPD, CBOs, attorneys, etc.

- what heat seek does

- how it benefits each group

Armed with this data, public interest attorneys, community organizers, and even city officials can advocate on behalf of at-risk tenants, and better hold landlords accountable for their negligence and harassment. Our data can demonstrate patterns of landlord abuse: manipulating the heat before, during, and after city inspections; targeting specific tenants; using heat as a harassment tactic; and more.



Heat Seek believes that its data can be used as a powerful tool to confront landlords who withhold essential services and/or attempt to force out tenants. In order for this data to be as useful as a tool to drive decision-making and action, Heat Seek must display and sort data in ways partners find intelligible and helpful. Furthermore, our partners must be prepared to move quickly upon seeing actionable trends in the data. 

Heat Seek recognizes a wider need for data, beyond targeting where to place Heat Seek sensors. Knowing that many other landlord actions (or lack of action) can constitute harassment, including other maintenance issues like mold, leaks, vermin, and lack of repairs, Heat Seek will work with our partners to develop a data product useful to their wider organizing and legal strategies.

Heat Seek works at the intersection of innovative technology and tenant advocacy to provide new tools in the fight to maintain affordable housing in New York City.