Heat Seek Blog
Six months after the close of our Kickstarter campaign, our first winter in New York has finally come to an end. With months of warm weather ahead, we decided to look back at what we’ve accomplished so far, and talk about how to use the next six months to gear up for round two.
One of our biggest early accomplishments was winning the BigApps 2014 competition, earning $25,000 and the praise of Mayor de Blasio. After that we went into production for our pilot program. By electing to build our sensors ourselves, we minimized cost and were able to hold on to a substantial portion of our prize money. We deployed sensors in Brooklyn and the Bronx and went live in November.
As winter wore on, we continued growing our professional network, forging relationships with Microsoft, the Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation, Civic Hall, the Flatiron School, and the District Attorney. We also recently obtained sponsorship from Weather Underground, who is giving us free and unlimited access to their API. We received favorable press from Fast Company and CNBC. We took on some new volunteer team members: Jesse, a data specialist; Caroline, a non-profit expert; and Rachel, a social media strategist. At the close of the season, we had 120 sensors purchased and 24 in production.
So, what’s next for Heat Seek? Our plan is to use the summer primarily for outreach and fundraising, keeping our name out there and hopefully raising enough money to hire some of our volunteer staff full-time. While we can’t share all the specifics, one of our main goals is getting all of our hardware up to 99% accuracy, so we can go into next winter with a foolproof fleet of sensors and hubs.
To all of our friends and supporters—thank you so much! Stay tuned for more progress updates as we continue to develop and grow.
- APR 19, 2015 -
We’ve decided to trust Azure with our most important asset: our user data. Heat Seek users count on us to keep their temperature data safe. The courts and local government do too.
Having administered databases on a variety of cloud platforms, our backend engineers are all too aware of exactly how frequently hacking attempts are made on your average server. Even old and unsophisticated ones like SSH brute force attacks are still rampant.
During the Heartbleed scare from 2014, we took notice when Azure’s cloud services were safe when so many others were compromised. Because of that, we decided to host our database backups on Azure servers.
We played around with the Azure portal, and we really happy with how intuitive and user friendly it is. We’re planning on moving other servers to Azure in 2015 as well.
- FEB 06, 2015 -
Why Cold For Some Means Complications For All
Winter is coming—and if it’s as frigid as the last one, New Yorkers are in for a debilitating few months. Fortunately, New York City tenants have a legal right to heat from October to May. Unfortunately, this right is difficult to enforce, as evidenced by the over 200,000 cold-related complaints the city receives every year. The fact that many citizens—particularly those who live in underprivileged neighborhoods, have young children or are elderly—are forced to endure Northeast winters without adequate heat is a disconcerting public health crisis that ought not to be an issue in the Greatest City on Earth.
Although not everyone suffers from a lack of adequate heat, everyone can empathize with those who do. More than that, however, there are a myriad of social complications that arise from cold living conditions that affect everyone, especially because we live and work in such close proximity. In fact, research has shown that physically cold temperatures can produce emotionally cold behavior—something New York certainly doesn’t need any more of. Other studies have suggested that warm temperatures are important for stimulating memory and creativity, which can impact success at work and at school. Cold temperatures also negatively impact your sleep cycle, and the temperature of many underserviced New York apartments can drop far below the optimal sleeping temperature (around 68 degrees). Sleep deprivation, of course, has profound effects on productivity and mood. Because a bad mood can be transferred as easily as a bad germ, the emotional cost that a cold apartment has on one person can be detrimental to us all. Cold temperatures can also weaken immune system response, especially among disadvantaged populations, leading to additional—and unnecessary—stress on our healthcare system.
Living in an unbearably cold apartment is an inhumane reality, one that has subtle but far-reaching social and economic ramifications. A cripplingly cold apartment is not just an individual concern. It’s a societal concern. Not only because we have a responsibility to look out for those around us, but because their well-being affects our well-being too. Yes, Heat Seek’s sensors will directly benefit those living in cold conditions, but they will also have benefits that extend far beyond one apartment or one person.
Remington Tonar is a senior strategy consultant at Siegelvision, a organizational identity firm that helps nonprofits define their purpose, articulate their value, and build their brands. His clients include major hospital systems, top universities, and international NGOs. Follow him on Twitter at @remtonar.
- SEP 09, 2014 -
We got written up by the Verge!
We got written up by The Verge! The Verge is one of the most cutting edge online media outlets in the tech space so that’s a real honor. They’re also a New York City based company, so go NYC!
- AUG 27, 2014 -