Using Drones to Inspect Urban Building Façades

Many cities require the owners of multistory buildings to regularly inspect their façades, looking for problems that may lead to injury or property damage. Drones can potentially help ease the process and cost of doing so.

1 minute read

August 24, 2017, 11:00 AM PDT

By ArupAmericas

New York Development

Nielskliim / Shutterstock

Why is this important? What are the potential implications for the built environment?

Many cities require the owners of multistory buildings to regularly inspect their façades, looking for problems that may lead to injury or property damage — loose masonry at risk of crashing to the sidewalk below, for instance.

These investigations are typically conducted in two stages. In the first, inspectors located on the ground or in adjacent buildings use binoculars to conduct a visual inspection. In the second, they study the façade up close, performing physical tests as needed.

The second stage often requires costly and disruptive interventions to the building and the surrounding neighborhood. Since many buildings lack the equipment needed to safely lower inspectors down the façade, owners frequently erect scaffolding that can block signage, views, and pedestrian pathways — sometimes for weeks on end, depending on the building’s size.

Finding a way to improve the first stage of the inspection in order to shorten the duration of the second could make these studies much cheaper and less invasive. It could also improve inspector safety, reducing the need for climbing around scaffolding or rappeling down the side of buildings.

Thursday, August 24, 2017 in Doggerel

View of Mount Hood at golden hour with Happy Valley, Oregon homes in foreground.

Clackamas County Votes to Allow ADUs, Residential RVs

County officials hope the zoning changes will help boost the housing supply in the region.

June 18, 2024 - Mountain Times

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Aerial view of intersection in New York City with yellow cabs and zebra crosswalks.

Planners’ Complicity in Excessive Traffic Deaths

Professor Wes Marshall’s provocatively-titled new book, "Killed by a Traffic Engineer," has stimulated fierce debates. Are his criticisms justified? Let’s examine the degree that traffic engineers contribute to avoidable traffic deaths.

June 13, 2024 - Todd Litman

Digital drawing of person holding city skyline with wifi symbols and lines indicating smart cities or data.

Cities Awarded for Data-Driven Projects

The What Cities Works Certification recognizes cities for using data to solve real problems.

June 21 - Smart Cities Dive

The Basilica of St. Joseph in San Jose, California.

Faith-Based Housing Movement Grows

More churches and municipalities are saying ‘Yes in God’s Backyard.’

June 21 - Vox

Close-up of red and white BUS LANE sign painted in street lane.

Why BRT Can Benefit Cities More Than Rail

Bus rapid transit lines offer a less expensive, quicker-build alternative to rail that can bring other infrastructure improvements with it.

June 21 - Governing

City Planner I

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner II

Department of Housing and Community Development

City Planner Supervisor

Department of Housing and Community Development

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.