3D LASER SCANNER
It is tempting to consider a homicide investigation complete when the handcuffs go on the suspected perpetrator. In reality, this is just the beginning. Of far greater consequence is identifying and establishing the facts of the case; in other words, what is the truth of the matter? Investigators must avail themselves of all the tools at their disposal for identifying and interpreting the facts so they may arrive, to the best of their ability, at the truth. Convictions. Justice. Accountability. All of these are subservient to the truth; truth is built upon fact; fact is supported by evidence.
A tool that is becoming much more commonplace in the quest to document and preserve evidence in its context is the 3D scanner. In the rapidly evolving world of technology, “3D scanner” may be too narrow of a term. FARO, provide specialized camera systems for 3D capture and Reality Capture may be used to convert photographs into stunning 3D views. Speed, accuracy and visualization are the name of the game. Amid all the clamor and excitement of new and improved technology, however, it behooves the investigator to take a moment and asked the question, “Of what value and for what purpose is the data being collected?” In other words, how does 3D scanning help the investigator document evidence, interpret fact and discover truth?
Much of crime scene work is identifying, documenting and collecting evidence. Evidence is not always a physical object or property that may be documented and collected. The absence of something can be powerful evidence. When documenting evidence (or the lack thereof), the investigator should ensure the process is thorough and complete. Photography is standard practice and an indispensable aspect of an investigation. In major investigations, such as homicides, it is also important to consider spatial relationships.
In times past, when an investigation required a diagram, field sketches were often scribbled in one’s notes, and a variety of measurements were taken to memorialize the scene and its evidence. By necessity a certain amount of subjectivity was introduced since it was beyond the capabilities and time of most investigators to accurately capture the entire scene. Decisions had to be made on what was important and what was not. Often, this process was determined by information known or learned at the time. Experienced investigators learned quickly that what may be learned at the outset of an investigation is often a pale shadow of what actually occurred. “Facts” are often updated, discarded or learned at all points along the investigation.
Sometimes, long after a scene is released, new information is learned which would have changed the way an investigator initially documented the scene. In an effort to adequately and reasonably document a scene, some details may not have been documented which later prove important to the case. A 3D scanner is an objective collector of data. It makes no decisions as to what should be collected or disregarded. It has limitations, to be sure, but decision and discernment are not among them. On normal, full-capture settings, a scanner will collect all data within its field-of-view, density and distance parameters. Though the operator may elect to limit some aspects of data capture, the documentation process is much more objective than manual measurements. It is not uncommon for 3D scanners to collect data on scene which proves useful at a later date.
This is why a 3d Scanner is very important today in the police force It is one thing to objectively collect vast amounts of data on a scene, but altogether different when it comes to such things as accuracy, speed and volume. What good is inaccurate data? Striving against accuracy is the reality of time: a limited commodity for investigators. The amount of data collected (volume) is a third prong competing for pre-eminence. These three elements should be balanced, and technology is making this possible. 3D laser scanners are accurate to millimetres. These highly accurate scans can take less than two minutes to capture. The ability, in some cases, to collect over one million points per second answers the need for volume. Scans and high-quality images are captured in a fraction of the time it used to take with the scanners of yesterday. The result? Investigators can collect accurate data faster and still allow for enough setups to fill gaps in the point cloud.
Not only do these systems provide objective and balanced data capture, they are becoming ever more portable. Laser scanners, once essentially restricted to cumbersome elements attached to large tripods, are becoming smaller and faster. Investigators can opt to use the more robust scanners; smaller, more portable scanners or even handheld, mobile units.