Some city leaders push for law allowing drones to inspect city buildings

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LOWER MANHATTAN — Could a drone have been used to spot the faulty façade of a Seventh Avenue building, potentially saving the life of pedestrian and architect Erica Tishman?

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and two city council members, Justin Brannan and Robert Cornegy, said it’s time the City Department of Buildings joined the 21st century by using new technology to speed up safety inspections and save lives.

“Our city cannot be a 21st century city using antiquated technology,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “In an iPod century, we can’t still be using an eight track method,” Adams added.

The owners of the building at 49th Street and Seventh Avenue had paid a $1,200 fine for the faulty façade back in April; Eight months later, repairs had still not been made, nor even a protective shed set up until after Tishman’s death.

One of the new bills would require drone inspections be done within 48 hours of a 311 complaint or a Department of Buildings violation.

The other bill would authorize NYCHA to use drones for initial facade inspections.

“What we are proposing is that DOB have its own department that uses drones internally,” Cornegy said.

City Hall claims a 71-year-old law bans drones in New York City.

At a news conference on the steps of City Hall, representatives from DJI — one of the makers of drones — showed how this model of a drone, even just handheld, can detect faulty pieces of facade.

PIX11 reached out to the City Department of Buildings for a comment on using drone technology for building elections. We have not heard back yet. The council members say they will be holding hearings in early February on drones.

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