New York City officials say laws must be updated to allow drone inspections of dangerous building facades in the wake of the death of Erica Tishman.
Tishman, an architect, was killed on December 17, 2019 by falling debris from a midtown Manhattan building.
The building in question was fined in April 2019 for having a dangerous façade.
NYC officials and DJI drone experts gathered several days after the incident for a press conference. The full conference can be watched below:
They assured those attending that they were doing all in their power to pass legislation that would enable local government to use drones to inspect the many hundreds or thousands of similarly hazardous buildings.
Current law dates back to 1948 and 1998. At neither of these times, council members pointed out, could legislators imagine the UAV technology that would be available for such tasks.
All involved in the press conference were quick to offer their condolences. Council member Justin Brannan added: “We have two fundamental obligations as elected officials: to make sure New Yorkers are safe, and to make sure their tax dollars are spent wisely. We have failed on both counts. What happened to Erica Tishman was a completely avoidable tragedy.”
Borough president Eric Adams commented: “These tools will save millions of dollars, save time, but most importantly it could save lives. It is something we must embrace for the future.”
Meanwhile Patrick Santucci, DJI’s senior communications manager, brought along the company’s DJI Matrice 210 drone to show the technology to those present.
He noted its two cameras. The first thermal camera would be used to spot inconsistencies in facades, while the second camera with powerful zoom capabilities could offer a much closer look.
Reassuring onlookers that such drone inspection operations would not pose a threat of their own, he said: “Our drones are known for their reliability. They go through thorough testing and feature multiple GPS systems to make sure they don’t go down.”
He continued: “Drones are bringing enormous benefits to cities, people, businesses across the world, and we’re hoping New York City can catch up.”