- The New York City Department of Buildings is piloting a remote video inspection program using standard digital video technology, so that inspectors will not need to be physically present. The city has continued to use in-person inspections through the pandemic.
- The voluntary program will replace in-person visits for some construction inspections in Staten Island and Brooklyn. If the pilot program is successful, it will expand to the rest of the city, Andrew Rudansky, press secretary for DOB told Construction Dive.
- The six-week program, which involves inspectors viewing sites via a phone or other mobile device, will end April 30. After that time, DOB personnel will identify operational challenges and address new processes for how virtual inspections in the city could work.
Remote inspections of construction projects became far more commonplace during the pandemic, and inspectors from states including Ohio, Nevada and Florida have indicated the practice could continue after the outbreak has subsided. The availability of inexpensive tools such as Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams provided building inspectors with an accessible way to view and inspect jobsites from a safe distance.
Nevertheless, the International Code Council found that approximately 60% of building departments surveyed said they did not yet have the capacity to perform remote inspections. The council published a series of guidelines and recommendations for agencies to follow and rapidly adopt the practice while maintaining COVID-19 guidelines.
The practice is also common on in-house inspections. Having project owners, superintendents or other stakeholders — who often live or work states or even countries away — view projects at a distance saves time and money, provided the infrastructure for the virtual visit is already in place.
The NYC DOB outlined a number of requirements for the RVI, including:
- A strong, reliable internet connection on the entire property.
- A device with a camera that can easily move through the facility, such as a phone or tablet.
- Adequate lighting for good picture quality.
- A separate light source, such as a flashlight, for darker areas.
- An authorized attendee with a tape measure for measuring certain dimensions.
If the DOB inspector observes elements unsuitable for virtual inspection, the department will require a physical inspection. Contractors can submit a request to take part in the pilot by filling out a DOB RVI form.