Activist and entrepreneur Yale Fox is the CEO of Rentlogic: a rental search engine that scans government databases to rate landlords and buildings. He works with cities and communities to put power back into the hands of tenants—and to show how open data can serve the public’s interest. Previously, he turned a nightclub into a sociological research lab: a big data analysis earning him a TED Fellowship.
Yale Fox’s Rentlogic works with the City of New York to analyze millions of building inspection records and rank each building based on quality. Their listings include additional information that most renters wouldn’t know about until it’s too late—like mold, heat and hot water problems, rodents, cockroaches, broken elevators, unexpected rent increases, or if the landlord has a tendency to keep the security deposit—all so that renters can be fully informed before signing a lease.
He’s also the director of LandlordWatch: a website that combines citizen-journalism, housing activism and problem solving with social technologies. LandlordWatch uses open government data provided by the City of Toronto respecting building inspections in order to create transparency in the rental housing market.
Previously, Yale Fox focused on the evolutionary origin to music, and which factors influence popular taste. In 2010, he wrote a paper on how music can be used to drive bar sales in a nightclub environment. It was written under the supervision of Dr. Kip Pegley at Queen’s University in Canada. He was also the first to write and publish about Musical Attention Deficit Disorder, which he did under the supervision of Dr. Robert J. Brym at the University of Toronto. In 2011, he successfully proved the link between the state of the economy and what’s trending in popular music. His research has appeared in dozens of publications, international documentaries, textbooks, and online periodicals.
Open Data Transparent, Accountable, and Connected Cities
After Yale Fox crossed paths with a crooked NYC landlord—and realized just how expensive and ineffective the courts could be—he decided to take action. How could he help tenants avoid rental traps and get honest answers? The solution was in the surprising amount of data collected by the city. With every inspection and complaint, dutifully preserved for public inquiry, the real dirt on landlords was there for all to see—all it would take was a bit of computation. And thus, Fox’s new company Rentlogic was born: a rental search engine that rates properties based on free, accurate housing market data—offering high rankings for those who play by the rules, and honest reviews for those who don’t.
In this keynote, Fox describes how open data policies are instrumental to living smarter, fairer, and more connected lives in the city. He explains how they invite the private sector to collaborate with the public in order to solve even the most challenging problems. And while open access to information (for greater transparency and accountability) helps protect tenants, it also helps landlords, who can use data to uncover key facts about building energy efficiency and renovation history, or how to calculate the most efficient number of units to optimize rent, minimize upkeep, and maximize tenant enjoyment. This is a talk for professionals in policy, advocacy, government, data management, and beyond—and for all buyers and sellers of property—or for anyone curious about how open data can unlock new economic opportunities and more equitable communities.
Music & Pop Culture The Intersection Between Popular Trends and Big Data
Fox can also talk to other, broader issues in pop culture. Using biological and sociological models, Fox focuses on how we react to pop culture on a subconscious, meaningful level, and how to better understand why it’s so important to us. With illuminating and engaging observations, he shares his findings, offers tips for more explorative approaches to our social lives, and provides insight into our biological connection to the online world.