US: The City Controller”s Office has decided of using drones to provide sky-high views of damaged properties. An announcement was made in press conference on Wednesday, at which, Controller Alan Butkovitz distributed a report on the drone.
The aim is to demonstrate to the city”s Department of Licenses and Inspections – as well as other agencies – the advantages of surveying the city from above. Guided by a professional videographer at a cost of less than $1,000, the drone shot photos of portions of Point Breeze and Hunting Park and a section of West Philadelphia.
With assistance from a drone, Butkovitz said, “a visual inspection of one block consisting of 56 homes could be completed in 30 seconds. You can see a host of dangerous conditions in seconds.” As a consequence, he said, L&I inspectors could do their jobs more safely. The drone displayed a portrait of a city in decay, with busted walls and buckling roofs not easily seen from the street.
Butkovitz said he had suggested the use of drones to L&I officials, whose response was “extremely positive.” On Wednesday, L&I Commissioner David Perri embraced the idea of using drones, saying the agency may start a pilot project in the summer. “It would have value in a couple of circumstances,” Perri said.
He added that drones would help inspectors get better views of fire-damaged buildings, without placing inspectors in harm”s way. Further, Perri said, photos from drones will help L&I officials in court, when they have to ask a judge for orders to demolish or repair buildings. “The photos would help us tell our story for immediate action to be taken,” he said.
Perri said L&I would be careful not to violate residents” privacy if it flew drones. Investigators from the Controller”s Office have identified 100 vacant, dangerous buildings throughout the city that it says are on the verge of collapse. According to the new report, hundreds – if not thousands – more buildings considered hazardous or unsafe pose a risk to public safety.
Such conditions could be especially worrisome during inclement weather, the report said, since any accumulation of snow could cause buildings to crumble. As The Inquirer has reported, the city has had a poor track record of inspecting dangerous buildings.
Last spring, the newspaper reported that many dangerous and unsafe buildings that should have been inspected every 10 to 30 days had not been visited by L&I inspectors in years. The Butkovitz report said drones could improve L&I”s efforts.
“The immediate advantage of utilizing a drone was . . . the ability to cover more ground in less time, making the process more efficient and effective,” the controller”s report read. The report said drones could also enhance bridge and construction inspections.