When it comes to investigating an accident site or the scene of a crime, most forensics investigators today understand the value of preserving every minuscule detail of possible evidence in the exact location and condition initially found.
Historically, accident reconstruction teams have collected and marked evidence, such as tire marks, and applied calculations to estimate speeds before a collision using a mix of critical speed formulas, tire radius values, the coefficient of friction and road elevations.
However, as geospatial technology has advanced in recent years, the forensics investigator’s toolbox has expanded to include drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), photogrammetric analysis, total stations, and 3D laser scanners.
In fact, forensics specialists are now utilizing all-in-one surveying, imaging and 3D scanning devices, such as the Trimble SX10 scanning total station, to zero in on crucial evidence and better preserve scenes for analysis.
Trimble business area manager, Chad McFadden, illustrates how many of these emerging and hybrid technologies are opening up a whole new level of detail and possibility for forensic specialists in a recent Point of Beginning (POB) magazine article, “Forensic Surveys Help Accident Investigation.”
Technologies Help Put Puzzle Pieces Together
As McFadden describes in the article, the SX10 total station is often used in crime scene investigations or crash reconstructions to calculate the horizontal distance and angles to specific points in 3D and to perform surveys accurately. With much of this technology, investigative teams can utilize measurement data to develop vehicle damage profiles and better capture specific locations of evidence and terrain.
In the POB article, McFadden highlights how one state trooper who is part of the Wisconsin State Patrol Technical Reconstruction Unit, Ryan Zukowski, and his team utilize numerous geospatial products to collect forensic data at crime and crash sites, including Trimble S6 Total Stations and R10 Integrated GNSS systems.
Zukowski notes: “The technology for law enforcement continues to evolve and create better opportunities for getting justice more quickly. You can’t argue with data and technologies that are proven to be so accurate. As tools diversify, getting data from two different kinds of tools in one helps us present the facts of the case in a more complete way.”