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NYC Buildings Considering Drones for Safety Inspections

NYC officials think drones could revolutionize the future of building inspections conducted in the City, according to a new report from the New York City Department of Buildings.

The drone report was created in response to Local Law 102, which requires the DOB to study the use of drones, or unmanned aircraft systems, for various building inspections. It provides a comprehensive overview of the City’s Façade Inspection Safety Program (FISP), which mandates periodic inspections of façades on buildings taller than six stories, existing drone technology and regulations, and the potential benefits of using drones to conduct important inspections and improve safety.

Drones Play a Positive Role in Building Management

The report states that drones have a promising use-case in building management. For example:

  • Drones can collect significant amounts of visual data, photos, videos, and thermal images.
  • In addition to visual images, drones can collect important location information to pinpoint the precise location of defects.
  • Drones can access areas that are otherwise inaccessible or very difficult to access via other inspection methods and are particularly useful in the inspection of large buildings.
  • Drones may improve efficiency in the current process of safety and façade inspections.

Although there are real benefits to using drones, officials did note some challenges. For example:

  • Drones cannot replace certain physical examinations necessary to identify façade defects.
  • While drones can efficiently capture date, the data must still be reviewed and evaluated to determine appropriate repairs and maintenance.
  • Current regulations limit the use of drones in NYC, which means there’s limited data and experience with using drones for inspections.

The report goes on to recommend further exploration of drone use in building inspections. This includes gathering information related to time and cost savings provided by drones and the types of façade deficiencies that drones would best or most efficiently be able to identify. If there’s any hope to use drones for inspections in the future, officials also say lawmakers will need to encourage innovation by updating current laws, which only allow approved government agencies to use drones within the City.

Our attorneys at The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. continually track trends in construction, building management, and NYC to ensure we’re always up to date for our clients. As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, drone use in construction has become very popular for site inspections, project tracking, material monitoring, and other tasks that enhance efficiency and the safety of workers.

One day, it may very well be the standard (or the law) for developers and property owners to perform routine inspections of their buildings and sites via drone. When that time comes, experienced attorneys who stay ahead of the game may also be using drones to conduct their own investigations and help victims injured in construction accidents build the strongest possible claims.


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