New York’s drone conundrum


New York’s drone conundrum

Groups like the New York Civil Liberties Union have raised red flags over surveillance and invasion of privacy concerns. 
July 18, 2019

It’s a tale as old as time: an innovative new technology is available and ready for use, but New York has yet to fully embrace it. That’s the complaint lodged by Carlo Scissura, the president and CEO of New York Building Congress, and others representing real estate developers’ interests in a new report by The Wall Street Journal. Thanks to a 71-year-old local statute, all aircraft in New York City have to take off and land in specific locations – airports, mainly – designated by the Port Authority. So while the technology has helped developers in other states speed up projects and cut costs, New York City’s real estate industry says it’s missing out. “The laws on the books are not written for these new, disruptive technologies,” Scissura told The Journal. “The cities that are doing this will always have a leg up on us.”

That’s not to say, however, that concerns about citywide drone legalization are insignificant. Safety is always a concern, and when the New York Police Department unveiled its own fleet of drones late last year, groups like the New York Civil Liberties Union raised red flags over surveillance and invasion of privacy concerns. 

While local statutes may get in the way of their use for real estate projects, unmanned aircraft system (UAS) testing has flourished in other parts of the state – specifically, Syracuse, which Mayor Ben Walsh hopes to turn into its own tech hub, and where the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance has its main headquarters. Griffiss International Airport in Rome also serves as one of seven test sites in the nation for developing and piloting unmanned drones.

For the rest of today's tech news, head over to First Read Tech.

Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.