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A thermometer that connects to the internet to help New York City turn the heat on for thousands of tenants with no heat in the winter.
A thermometer that connects to the internet to help New York City turn the heat on for thousands of tenants with no heat in the winter.
424 backers pledged $15,673 to help bring this project to life.

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A Very Happy New Year from Heat Seek NYC!

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Hello beautiful Kickstarter backers! The Heat Seek NYC team wishes you a wonderful new year! We’re long overdue for a campaign update, so let’s jump right into what we’ve been up to throughout the fall and holiday season.

Sensor Production

Thanks to you and our NYC BigApps 2014 tour de force, we’ve been able to finance the production of over 100 Heat Seek sensors to date. We’re working with CASA (Community Action for Safe Apartments) and the Urban Justice Center to install these in select apartments in Brooklyn and Queens where heating code violations are frequent, and we’ve already managed to capture several violations.

Large scale production remains a challenge, but our primary goal is still building a tool that stands up in housing court and that’s useful to the attorneys and community organizations that can use it to produce meaningful results. We’re well on the way to accomplishing that goal, although the focus on quality over quantity means that our initial 1,000-sensor goal may be out of reach, at least for this heating season.

Organizational Progress

So what about the Heat Seek NYC organization? We’ve incorporated as a New York non-profit and filed for federal 501(c)(3) treatment. We remain an all-volunteer organization, although we’ve continued to grow, adding a Government Relations Lead in November. We’ve also built an incredible board of directors with decades of experience in civic technology, non-profit management, and housing policy.

Community Engagement

In addition to focusing on sensor production and organizational development, we’ve also done our best to rally the community behind the cause of adequate heat for ALL New Yorkers. We’re working with more advocacy groups and tenants associations than ever, and we’ve met some wonderful people--tenants, attorneys, tech enthusiasts, and non-profit experts--along the way.

Over the past few months, we’ve received some stellar media coverage, including this recent piece on CNBC’s “Game Changers”. Even Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams voiced his support by announcing that he will be placing Heat Seek sensors in his own apartment building.

Perks

In December we circulated a Kickstarter questionnaire to those of you who requested T-shirt and hoodie perks to ascertain sizing. We’re aware that some donors didn’t receive the survey, and some of you provided your sizing in the comments. We’ll follow up individually with you if we still don't have your sizing, or if we need more information. Otherwise, we’re happy to let you know that we’ve placed the order for the bulk of the Heat Seek T’s and hoodies, and we’re on schedule to ship them to your doorstep by the end of February.

We’ll report on other perks in a forthcoming update, including a web featurette thanking our Heat Seek Angels and the awesome custom sensor designs we’re cooking up.

And finally, THANK YOU!

We couldn’t have gotten this far without the wonderful support we’ve received from you, our Kickstarter backers. We’ll keep you posted on all of the above and more as the heating season progresses.

Cheers,

The Heat Seek NYC Team

Kickstarter for the win!

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We made it! Thanks so much to all of our supporters. In addition to raising 150%+ of our goal, we also won NYC BigApps and began working with the city government to keep the heat on this winter. We are working hard on finding manufacturing relationships here in New York, so if you know anyone, tell us! We're looking for PCB printing, soldering/assembly, etc. We're working hard on our schematics now.

Today marks an important day: the legal start of heating season! We are very pleased to announce that we will be working with the housing department to make our data freely available directly to housing inspectors, who will be given special accounts with access to city-wide reports. Users will of course be able to opt out of the program. Also, looks like we've got another sponsor! Digi, the manufacturer of our mesh-networking xbee radios, saw the article about us in EE Times and contacted us!

Thanks so much for all your support, this is really a tremendous adventure and we’re looking forward to making a difference this winter!

 

NYC BigApps, T-shirts, hoodies, and more

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On Tuesday, the Heat Seek NYC team pitched in front of a panel of seriously impressive judges at the NYC BigApps 2014 Finals. We not only won the grand prize for best app in the “LIVE” category, but also the product prize for best connected device! The grand prize in the LIVE category is huge for us, and we could not have done it without your support. Thank you again to all our backers.

Together, these awards will contribute $25,000 towards our 1,000 sensor goal. They also make us the most decorated project at BigApps 2014 with no fewer than four honors:

  • Grand prize in the LIVE category;
  • Best connected device;
  • The “3-1-1 Connect” BigIdea challenge award; and
  • Victory by unanimous decision at the BigApps Battleground pitch competition.

We have to give it up for our BigApps competitors, who have been incredibly supportive from the start. We're excited to see what the future brings for many of these projects, and to compete alongside them has been both humbling and inspiring.

New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio presented the award for the LIVE project category himself, along with NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball and Microsoft’s Director of Civic Innovation John Farmer, on Tuesday evening. Here’s us on stage with Bill and John:

Image credit: AM New York
Image credit: AM New York

In even bigger news, His Mayorness called a meeting for us to share our tech with NYC’s heads of housing. The officials were excited to see our sensors in action and offered lots of advice and guidance, for which the Heat Seek team is tremendously grateful. This is an issue they have been addressing for much longer than we have, and their insight is going to be invaluable as we refine our offering.

We DID suffer a brief foot-in-mouth moment stemming from a false statement in our Kickstarter video. In the video, we stated that it can sometimes be weeks before a housing inspector is dispatched to verify a heating complaint. In fact, the HPD has a solid track record of investigating within 72 hours, it’s just that some tenants may not be aware of the visit if the inspector visited a neighbor with the same complaint in the same building. We’ve updated our video to correct this misstatement.

In other news, we’ve been featured in at least a half a dozen more publications (that we know of) including the front page of AM New York! That was an excellent morning surprise. We’re still on track to hit the goals on our timeline, and we've even picked up some more volunteers thanks to the big wins this week.

Finally, many of you have been asking what our T-shirts and hoodies are going to look like! Well check out these killer threads:

Thanks again for your continued support! With 10 days left in our campaign, we are still pushing for more backers. Please continue to help us get the word out as we strive to provide 1,000 sensors for New Yorkers in need. More updates to follow as we near the finish line!

Cheers,

The Heat Seek NYC Team

Thanks so much for your support, let's keep the momentum going!

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We hit our minimum funding level to start production of a few hundred sensors! Thanks for your continued support. Now let's get to $50,000 so we can hit our main goal of a thousand sensors in the field this winter!

After Kickstarter fees and the cost of fulfilling Kickstarter perks like T-shirts for backers, about 66% of contributions will be left over. It costs roughly $340 to outfit a building with ten sensors (9 cells + 1 hub), so we’ll spare you that math and show you this pretty chart:

Our goal since the beginning of this campaign has been to provide sensors for 1,000 New Yorkers who need them. Help us reach that goal! Buy a T-shirt or a hoodie!

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To update you on our progress, we were able to get a loan for $1,000 and have ordered enough parts to finish prototyping and fully outfit two buildings of 10 apartments each. We're using those parts in prototypes to demo for the judges at BigApps and we'll be installing them in buildings shortly thereafter. If we can hit $15,000 on Kickstarter by the time the judges see the project on Tuesday, that will significantly increase our chances of winning, and will make it possible for us to secure better terms in manufacturing so our sensors will be ready in time for winter.

We're making great connections with NYC tenant advocacy organizations. In addition to the Urban Justice Center and CASA, we've now partnered with UHAB (Urban Homesteading Assistance Board). We've got lots more meetings lined up, and feel free to let us know if you've got an organization that could benefit from partnering with Heat Seek!

Most exciting, we presented at NY Tech Meetup on Tuesday, and Mayor de Blasio was there! In his speech, he said "I am absolutely moved by what I saw from Heat Seek...I would like to guarantee them a meeting with the housing commissioner and the general manager of our housing authority so they can present the idea directly." So that's awesome.

Check out our press buzz:

Thank you to everyone for supporting us. It really means a lot. It's really good to see that so many of you care and that motivates us to keep working hard. Thank you again, from the bottom of our hearts.