Ugh. Landlords from hell. They leave doors damaged and plumbing to rot, don’t care that killer molds are growing behind the walls, and in NYC, they couldn’t care less if you freeze in the winter. Since it’s darn hard getting an inspector to come and verify a heat violation, a new KickStarter project called Heat Seek NYC wants to give people the power to gather their own evidence using simple internet-connected temperature sensors. These Heat Seek sensors constantly monitor indoor temperature and upload the results online like Nest does, so they can be accessed through an app monitored, say, by a lawyer building a tenant’s case.
In New York, keeping the heat on can be a battle. Buildings are required to keep temperatures above 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55 at night, but between faulty boilers and often hostile landlords looking to save on fuel, that doesn’t always happen. The result is that many tenants are left in the cold. This winter the city got more than 200,000 reports of heating violations — sometimes more than 5,000 in a single day — but just a fraction of those made it through the city’s courts. Gathering evidence of the violations is difficult, and pushing a complaint through can take months, having little effect until long after the weather changes. As a result, many tenants have no option but to wait the winter out. A new project called Heat Seek NYC wants to change that. Think of it as a more civic-minded version of the Nest, a way to track the city’s worst heating violations and do something about them. “Our technology is giving the legal system power to make these codes actually mean something,” says founder William Jeffries (who, full disclosure, is alsoVerge reporter Adrianne Jeffries’ brother). The project wants to put his networked thermometer in 1,000 of the city’s coldest apartments this winter, and he’s raising money on Kickstarter to build the necessary sensor hardware. If the project succeeds, it could open up a new way for the city to fight slumlords and protect tenants.
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