Apr
04
2017

Point clouds point the finger for law enforcement and public safety

Daniel Oxley, Account Manager – Public Safety, Europe North, FARO Technologies UK Ltd discusses how the ability to precisely scan and capture important macro and micro crime- and incident-scene information can revolutionise forensics and legal proceedings

Advances in 3D scanning technology and its associated hardware have created a new paradigm in the ability to interrogate crimes and incident scenes in more detail than ever before. As well as measuring and preserving minute details, the technology will also speed up forensic processes and save significant legal time and costs.

With applications in arson, crime, homicide and accident analysis, to name but a few, the technology also removes many of the human factors and accidental biases that could skew or hinder subsequent investigations. By providing unaltered, unambiguous and unbiased total-scene coverage, the level of detail on offer really is a game changer.

Photos on their own are no longer adequate. The investigators may not photograph the whole scene or could accidentally miss items that may be vital to the ongoing investigation. With FARO’s 3D scanning technology this is no longer an issue, as it will record everything. Users cannot only capture the scene a lot quicker – saving up to three or four days and significant labour costs – but they will also have complete scene data. What is more it is all measurable. This is essential for automotive collisions or for comparison to personal-interrogation data from crime scenes, relating to suspect location, reach, attitude and position.

Primary point cloud data can be captured using an ultra-portable FARO S Series Laser Scanner, which scan can a scene to an accuracy of ±1 mm. Offering minimal set up, the unit is also self-levelling so is incredibly easy to use. Complementing the S Series scanner, and for hidden or tight-access areas, the Faro Freestyle Handheld Laser Scanner can provide extra detail for specific areas in static crime scenes or, thanks to its impressive portability, for crush events in vehicle accidents, where deformations can be easily recorded for further analysis. When additional levels of accuracy are required, for finer details in shoe prints, bite marks or tooling scrapes, the FARO Forensic Scan Arm is a portable contact/non-contact measurement system that offers a resolution of 0.05 mm – less than the thickness of a human hair.

To process and present the cloud data, FARO offers dedicated 2D- and 3D diagramming and advanced animation software, like FARO Zone 2D, Crash Zone, Crime Zone or the SCENE software. For example, using SCENE’s intuitive ribbon-based approach, users can leverage the software to not only view the scene, but also calculate suspect heights based on photos. Using optional modules, blood spatter origins can also be determined, as can bullet trajectories. Finally, for crime scene visualisation, in courtrooms for example, FARO’s Video Pro plug in for SCENE, allows users to navigate to any point and view scenes from any angle. Floors and roofs can be removed and videos can be created that can be shared and viewed on line or with virtual reality headwear.

With many judicial and law-enforcement applications already in place – including deployment by the International Criminal Court in Holland – 3D scanning is the new benchmark for fast, easy and accurate collection of vital scene data and it is already making a real difference in the world of forensics.

 

More information is available at http://www.faro.com

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