New York City’s Rare Earthquake Sparks a Prompt Drone Response

A rare earthquake in New York City measuring 4.8 in magnitude has the residents of all five boroughs on edge.  The quake was powerful enough to rattle the city’s bridge infrastructure and though no injuries were reported in its immediate aftermath, concerns are growing about possible future damage to vehicles and pedestrians from crumbling and falling debris.

In response, the NYPD has decided to deploy a portion of its recently expanded drone fleet on a citywide inspection mission.  The drones are flying over all of the major bridges as well as most of the city’s tallest buildings to identify possible sources of structural weakness that could eventually result in more serious damage.

These drone flights are not the kinds of in-depth drone surveillance and mapping missions that sometimes follow a major earthquake when buildings collapse and persons are killed or injured or still buried under debris.  But they do involve the use of high-powered AI-supported camera technology that can compare the facings and supports of buildings and bridges before and after the quake to detect even minor changes such as loose bricks or cables that could pose a risk to residents further down the road.

“We are scanning the bridges up and down, looking for any type of anomalies, looking for any structural defects, looking for anything that’s out of the ordinary,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner Kaz Daughtry said last Friday.

Based on their initial drone sweeps, city officials don’t believe that New York residents are in any immediate danger, but their assessment could change in the days and weeks ahead, officials say.

“We at the Department of Buildings are concerned about some of the downstream possibilities, cracks that you might see that may materialize and manifest in a week or a month or scaffolding, retaining walls,” said Building Department Commissioner Jimmy Oddo.

NYPD officials can’t recall another time when their agency and the Build Department collaborated so closely – and certainly not on a drone mission.  Normally infrastructure inspections are carried out by transportation or building department officials but in this case, the NYPD took the lead because of its robust drone fleet, which is typically assigned to tactical law enforcement operations.

Daughtry noted that public concern over bridge safety is unusually high due to the recent collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore

“We want to make sure that we are doing our job as a police department, helping the Department of Transportation and Buildings assess these bridges. Even though we don’t work for the Department of Buildings,” he said.

Last year New York Mayor Eric Adams relaxed restrictions in drone use by the NYD and also expanded the department’s fleet of 14 DJI drones to include at least 2 state-of-the-art BRINC Lemur drones that are especially well-suited for 911 response calls and broader public safety emergencies.

Since 2019, the NYPD has conducted a total of 812 drone missions but nearly half of these missions– or 402 – were conducted in 2023 alone.  About 65% of these 2023 missions were conducted in response to a potential “public safety” crisis or emergency, according to NYPD data.

ABOUT US: is a Nationwide Media Company specializing in custom Drone Videos for real estate, commercial, farms, construction, golf courses, roof inspections and more. All of our Drone Operators are fully licensed and insured. When you purchase a Drone Video Package from us, you will receive a video professionally edited, color corrected and presented to you on an SEO-Friendly webpage that you can easily share online and on Social Media with a click of a button. Click here to get started.

Previous Drone News:

Start Your Order
We Offer a Variety of Drone Video Packages
to Fit Your Needs and Budget