Local Lawmakers Hope Drones Can Play a Role in Future Inspections

Following the tragic death of architect Erica Tishman, several New York City lawmakers are hoping to bring NYC building inspections into the modern day with new legislation allowing drones to be used in the process, according to reports from CBS 2 NY. As we’ve previously discussed here at the Gallagher Bassett Newscenter, drones have become an integral part of construction industry processes throughout the rest of the country, with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) playing a role in tasks as varied as material transport and land surveys.

But it’s the ability to aid in the inspection of hard-to-reach places, in addition to providing access to information unavailable to the naked eye, that has local politicians most interested in integrating them into current upkeep procedures. According to the principals involved — including Councilman Justin Brannan and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams — the goal of any legislation would be to overturn a 1948 law preventing aircraft from taking off anywhere outside of those places designated by the Port Authority (all but limiting such activity to the LaGuardia and JFK airports which service the NY/NJ area.) 

The amendment to the law would allow companies tasked with inspections to use drones in conjunction with agencies such as the DOB, likely expediting investigations for outstanding violations related to potentially dangerous maintenance lapses. Violations and citations like the one-handed out to the building developers at 729 Seventh Avenue, the building from which debris fell and landed on Tishman. The report, which was filed nearly 8 months ago, cited a “failure to maintain exterior building facade,” concerning specifically the  “damaged terra cotta at areas above [the] 15th floor in several locations, which poses a falling hazard for pedestrians.” 

In Brannan’s eyes, “What happened to Erica Tishman appeared to be a completely avoidable tragedy,” and believes that such tragedies will be prevented in the future. Leveraging the expanded capabilities of drones to give inspectors the complete picture with an infrared eye in the sky is a tool that could help make that a reality. Once they can get off the ground, of course.