A partnership will be set up between three major US cities to share information about the design and operation of tower cranes within their borders.

Officials from New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia will store the information on a central database, to be updated quarterly. It is hoped this will determine the operational history of a tower crane and whether it is safe to be used.

The network will be launched at the end of June 2009. Other municipal and state agencies across the country are expected to join in the coming months. It will track specific pieces of information: the number of active tower cranes, the locations of their operation, the name of the crane owner, the make, model, model year, maximum height and serial number of each tower crane and the dates when it is erected and dismantled.

There are more than 50 active tower cranes in New York City (NYC), Chicago and Philadelphia, said NYC buildings commissioner Robert LiMandri. "This new pact is a major step toward establishing a standardised system of tracking tower cranes across the country and will ultimately better protect New Yorkers and millions of other Americans from unsafe construction practices. I would like to thank officials from Chicago and Philadelphia for their co-operation and commitment to public safety, and I encourage more jurisdictions to join us."

There is no national database to track tower cranes or their parts, which easily move through municipal and state jurisdictions with varying degrees of oversight and requirements, according to the New York City Department of Buildings. The current federal crane regulations are more than 40 years old and a modern set of standards proposed by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not include any requirements for crane tracking, added the department.

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