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Building code ‘hackers’ use new tech to solve old problems

The New York City Department of Buildings has announced the winners of the agency’s first ever “Hack the Building Code” Innovation Challenge for ideas on how to improve building safety and modernize the development process in NYC.

Launched earlier this year in partnership with the NYC Economic Development Corporation and the Urban Tech Hub @ Company, the challenge put out an open call to the design, construction and technology industries, inviting ideas on ways to improve our city’s built environment.

Each of the winning submissions will be presented at DOB’s digital industry conference, Build Safe | Live Safe Digital 2020: Safety, Innovation, & Sustainability

“Much like New York City itself, the work to improve our industry and building regulations is something that never stops,” said Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca.


“Innovative ideas can help keep our fellow New Yorkers safe and better suit the needs of our ever-changing city. I congratulate each one of the winners of this innovation challenge, who each provide unique and compelling ideas on how we can build a better city for all of us.”

The “Hack the Building Code” Innovation Challenge received submissions from a range of design, construction and technology organizations from across the region, with ideas ranging from improving worker safety to streamlining the development process.

Members from DOB’s in-house Innovation Committee and a special panel of judges comprised of experts from the private sector selected winners based on feasibility, impact and innovation. In addition to showcasing the winners at this week’s digital industry conference, the winners of this challenge will be supported for recognition in the city’s construction practices.

“Hack the Building Code” Innovation Challenge winners:

  • AJUSTCO ANCHOR THREAD – Ajustco provides simple solutions to the hardware and construction industry.  The Anchor Thread, greatly reduces the need to drill in newly poured concrete by providing a ready to use anchor point available for use immediately upon stripping form work.
  • aROBOTICSCo. – ARoboticsCompany’s Imager Robot allows for faster, safer, and better facade inspections. Easily transported and installed, the robot needs only two operators who can perform more than four drops per day on a typical 25 story building. Multiple custom cameras provide an excellent field of view with clarity and stability beyond that of human eyes. Recorded video can be viewed by engineers remotely while numerous digital and mechanical safety measures guarantee a safe run every time. The system can handle most exteriors and drops of up to 370 feet in approximately 45 minutes (including setup and disassembly). Adherence to Local Law 11 no longer needs to be an ordeal; the imager robot will help better identify potential hazards before they become dangerous.
  • STERILYFT – As an elevator cab and door manufacturer for decades, CEC has now turned its innovation and expertise to addressing health conditions within the elevator and have developed Sterilyft as an unmatched risk mitigation system for the purification and sterilization of the interior elevator air.  The intent is to remove air impurities and pathogens from the air to provide a safe and healthy elevator use for all passengers.
  • T2D2 – TT has developed T2D2, a tool for autonomous detection and classification of facade damage and deterioration from photographic and video images. T2D2 is powered by Computer Vision and Deep Learning and has been trained on thousands of images of actual projects from our database. We believe this tool will streamline the inspection process and greatly enhance real-time assessment of façade deterioration – helping to identify potential hazards BEFORE they become threats to pedestrian safety. The technology is not intended to replace hands-on inspection. Rather, it enables rapid and cost-effective initial assessments of façade damage and highlight areas of the structure where hands-on inspection can be more effectively deployed. We encourage the Department of Buildings to accept the use of this type of technology to be used to complement the traditional hands-on inspections mandated by the NYC Façade Inspection & Safety Program (FISP).

Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr., said, “This ‘Hack the Building Code’ Innovation Challenge represents precisely the kind of forward-thinking fostering of innovation we must pursue. NYC can lead the way in advancing new technology development, awareness, and adoption. Thanks to all those who participated in this innovation challenge and congratulations to all the competition winners. We all win when we advance a built environment that safely serves the needs of New Yorkers.”

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