INNOVATIVE TECH STARTUPS TO PILOT HEALTH AND SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS AT SELECT NYCHA BUILDINGS
Pilots developed by Pansofik, Enertiv, and BlocPower hope to bring maintenance and operational improvements to selected NYCHA buildings.
The NYCHA Tech Pilots is a collaboration between the Fund for Public Housing, MetaProp NYC, and the Urban Tech Hub at Grand Central Tech to identify some of NYC's top PropTech startups that can benefit NYCHA residents.
NEW YORK – Today, the Fund for Public Housing, a non-profit organization founded to invest in the well-being of NYCHA residents and their communities, along with its innovation partners MetaProp NYC and the Urban Tech Hub at Grand Central Tech, announced that three winners of the inaugural NYCHA Tech Pilots competition, Pansofik, Enertiv, and BlocPower, have recently started the initial testing of their winning projects. Pansofik recently installed environmental sensors that detect high humidity and temperature conditions in apartment bathroom areas to assess ventilation effectiveness at a NYCHA building in Washington Heights. Enertiv’s technology continuously monitors critical building equipment (in this case, every ventilation fan at a NYCHA building in East Harlem) to predict malfunctions and alert the building operator in real time. BlocPower recently installed sensors to integrate heating equipment and air quality monitoring services, as well as a free community WiFi network, at a NYCHA building in East Brooklyn.
By engaging local startup tech firms to demonstrate that innovative solutions can improve the way NYCHA delivers services to its residents, the NYCHA Tech Pilots represent a creative new approach for capitalizing on New York’s vibrant and ever-growing startup culture. NYCHA, the Fund for Public Housing, and local technology partners such as MetaProp NYC and the Urban Tech Hub at Grand Central Tech have been working together to proactively address specific maintenance and operational issues faced by NYCHA residents by leveraging the talents of tech firms like Pansofik, Enertiv, and BlocPower.
“The Fund was created to spark and support innovation that transforms NYCHA communities, and this is exactly the type of early result we were hoping for,” said Rasmia Kirmani-Frye, President of the Fund for Public Housing. “Enertiv, Pansofik, and BlocPower have put their assets to work in NYCHA buildings, and we hope that their eagerness to show how they can make improvements for the residents of the largest residential portfolio in North America will serve as an example to other great companies.”
“Grand Central Tech has been privileged to collaborate with the City in many different ways, most recently as a proud supporter of NYCHA’s Tech Pilots,” said Robinson Hernandez, Executive Director, The Urban Tech Hub at Grand Central Tech. “We’re excited to see the positive impact winning companies like Pansofik and BlocPower are already having for residents in Washington Heights and in East New York respectively. From the beginning, the Urban Tech Hub has provided the tech sector invaluable connections to work together with local government and corporate partners to imagine the city’s future.”
“One of the goals of MetaProp NYC is to bring PropTech innovation to businesses and communities everywhere,” said Zachary Aarons, Co-Founder of MetaProp. “We are especially proud to work with the Fund for Public Housing and the Urban Tech Hub at Grand Central Tech to bring highly effective startups such as Enertiv to remedy facility issues in our hometown’s vast public housing community. The result of these efforts should be greater efficiencies and lower costs for residents and taxpayers.”
Pansofik and Enertiv’s projects focus on improving air quality and ventilation systems, while BlocPower’s project focuses on air quality, heating system analysis, and internet connectivity. These Property Technology (PropTech) innovators hope to improve quality of life for NYCHA residents while reducing the upfront and operating expenses of NYCHA's extensive portfolio. The three projects are overseen by NYCHA Capital Projects’ Energy and Sustainability Department in partnership with the Fund for Public Housing.
Enertiv, a MetaProp portfolio company, has deployed its Asset Intelligence solution at Upaca (Site 5) in East Harlem. The company tracks the performance of critical equipment, such as boilers, chillers, elevators, lighting, and exhaust fans, to streamline maintenance and optimize efficiency. The software platform applies machine learning to predict equipment failure and notify building operators in real time, reducing maintenance costs and improving resident health and comfort.
The system has already alerted staff at Upaca (Site 5) to multiple exhaust fan malfunctions in real time, enabling them to correct problems before residents were affected. Rooftop ventilation fans are essential for maintaining indoor air quality and are also prone to failure from motor and fan belt issues. Weeks after installation, the Enertiv technology has already helped NYCHA reduce the risks associated with poor ventilation, such as mold, secondhand smoke, particulates, and chemicals.
“The NYCHA superintendent we met had inadequate tools when it came to maintaining the two dozen rooftop ventilation fans. When maintenance is reactive, residents, especially those with asthma, are at higher risk for health problems,“ said Connell McGill, CEO of Enertiv. “We're proud to be working with NYCHA to streamline maintenance to improve the indoor environment for tenants while also extending the useful life of equipment and improving the energy efficiency of the systems.”
Pansofik has successfully deployed its low-cost Smart Building Internet of Things (IoT) technology pilot, powered by the Comcast machineQ™ IoT platform, at a number of Washington Heights Rehab buildings in Washington Heights. The Pansofik sensors wirelessly monitor apartment environmental conditions and building systems performance to provide both real-time maintenance alerts and predictive analytics that can recognize longer term maintenance issues. Together, these capabilities give NYCHA building managers a complete picture of a building’s status and provide the tools they need to improve operations and lower overall costs.
The Pansofik solution will be used to determine the effectiveness of planned ventilation upgrades, which prevent mold and mildew growth, and to monitor heating system performance during the colder months. Pansofik will maintain the pilot for a six-month period to collect enough data for NYCHA to assess before and after results on improving the environmental conditions in the selected apartments.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of our low-cost wireless sensor network to provide early detection of building maintenance issues. We believe it can meaningfully reduce NYCHA’s operational costs while improving the health and safety of NYCHA residents,” said Tony Bowden, Pansofik’s CTO and Co-Founder. “In addition, we are very proud to showcase the benefits of NYC-based tech company partnerships with local city agencies to solve the toughest problems facing our communities.”
BlocPower has installed sensors to stream real-time energy, heating, and air quality data to an easily accessible BlocPower web dashboard over Comcast’s Long Range (LoRa) network at a Saratoga Village building in East New York. BlocPower has also partnered with NYC Mesh to provide a free WiFi network to NYCHA residents. Real-time data allows BlocPower’s analytics package to identify how to comprehensively improve the interrelated challenges of lack of heating, indoor air pollution, and data connectivity for NYCHA communities.
BlocPower has also partnered with NYC Mesh to provide a free WiFi network to NYCHA residents. Real-time data allows BlocPower’s analytics package to identify how to comprehensively improve the interrelated challenges of lack of heating, indoor air pollution, and data connectivity for NYCHA communities.
“I spent three years as a community organizer knocking on doors in NYCHA complexes in Brownsville, Brooklyn, to connect with vulnerable families, starting back in 2006,” said Donnel Baird, BlocPower CEO. “I’m thrilled that my amazing teammates at BlocPower have found a way to fix NYCHA’s heating, blackouts, internet access, and asthma-related challenges once and for all. The data will help us understand where the asthma-causing air pollution and energy waste occurs in each building – so we can fix it. Low-cost technologies can dramatically improve quality of life for hundreds of thousands of NYCHA residents, while freeing up energy bill savings to finance mold and lead removal.”
NYCHA is facing an unprecedented financial shortfall, with $17 billion in unmet capital needs, and the Fund for Public Housing is dedicated to helping the Authority find creative and modern solutions to address some of its greatest challenges as well as to support its residents. The winners of the NYCHA Tech Pilots are seeking to use their innovative technologies to modernize the Authority and, in doing so, build a housing authority that is successful in the future.
About the New York City Housing Authority
NYCHA’s mission is to increase opportunities for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers by providing safe, affordable housing and facilitating access to social and community services. Almost 400,000 New Yorkers reside in NYCHA’s 325 public housing developments around the five boroughs, and another 195,000 receive subsidized rental assistance in private homes through the NYCHA-administered Section 8 Leased Housing Program. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/nycha , and for regular updates on NYCHA news and services, connect with us via www.facebook.com/NYCHA and www.twitter.com/NYCHA.
About the Fund for Public Housing
Never before has there been an organization that exists solely to address the priorities of New York City public housing communities. The Fund for Public Housing is an independent, not-for-profit organization that invests in the well-being of NYCHA residents and their communities. The Fund collaborates with public and private partners to reimagine and improve the way public housing works. For more information, visit www.fundforpublichousing.org or follow the Fund on Twitter, www.twitter.com/Fund4PH.