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Tragedy Furthers Talks of Drone Inspections in New York City

Video Credit: TODAY

For a few years now, companies have been relying on drones and drone pilots to inspect buildings and properties rather than risk sending in a human inspector to do so. We’ve discussed drone inspections a few times before on this blog (e.g. drones used as insurance inspectors, Flyabilitiy’s caged inspection drone, and the University of Zurich’s foldable drone) and discovered that drones have proven themselves to be safer and more effective than traditional inspection methods. This driving industries like real estate, construction, and insurance to switch.

Recently, the issue of having an effective method of performing building inspections was brought up in New York City following tragic circumstances. Last year, a well-respected architect was killed by debris that fell from 729 Seventh Ave., a 17-story office building. According to NY Daily News, the building had already received violations for its facade, specifically describing “damaged terra cotta at areas above 15th floor in several locations which pose a falling hazard for pedestrians.”

Because of this tragic event, drones have been brought to the forefront of city politics. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams expressed a desire for the City Department of Buildings to update their methods with new technology, but he believes that the police are obstructing the city's progress. He compared the current manner of doing things to using an eight-track "in an iPod century".

Image Credit: Wix Stock Library

This also led to discussions about the 71-year old statute that we discussed in another article. As a brief recap, Provision 435-16.0 is a statute that was enacted in 1948, and it prevents drones from taking off and landing within the city. Thus, those whose work or businesses would greatly benefit from drone use are unable to take advantage of their benefits. A demonstration with a DJI drone was planned to show citizens how drones can be an asset in facade protection, but due to this statute, Brennan could only demonstrate the drone’s camera features.

NY Daily News also reported that Councilman Justin Brennan has put forth legislation that would require the city to use drones to inspect buildings like 729 Seventh Ave “within 48 hours of receiving a 311 complaint, or after the Department of Buildings issues a violation”. He, along with supporting councilmen and President Adams intend to “raise the drone legislation with the city Department of Buildings at a Feb. 1 hearing.”


I am a writer and an artist based in Georgia. Specializing in illustration, graphic design, and video art, I love to explore the new ways technology intersects with art. I think drones have done amazing things for photography and video art, making what would previously be costly and difficult more accessible. As a complete novice, it was only recently that I saw what independent artists could do with their drones, and I continue to be impressed by the sights that drones are able to explore and the images they can capture. Instagram: @tyesha.ferron

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