Law Enforcement’s New Frontier in 3D Data Utilization

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Clark Yuan
Clark Yuan
August 9, 2023
4 min

Each day, thousands of individuals unfortunately find themselves in perilous situations where they require assistance. Perhaps they have found themselves in an auto accident. Or a victim of a crime. Or even caught in a fire. During these moments of stress where stakes are at their highest, it is imperative that first responders and law enforcement are equipped with the right tools and information to meet their most important tenet: ensuring public safety. We believe that 3D data holds the answer to ensuring a safer society.

LIDAR scan of vehicle after an accident

3D Data’s Value Proposition to Law Enforcement and Public Safety

Today, law enforcement and first responders rely on antiquated technology to perform essential tasks. Fire departments still use 2D blueprints to plan for fire rescue procedures. Police officers and detectives analyze crime scenes through visual inspection and document incidents using photographs and hand sketches. Unfortunately, visual inspection is rife with human error.

Here’s how 3D technologies can help. Unlike 2D data, 3D data offers a significant improvement in accuracy due to its ability to capture spatial information and depth. By pairing officers with the right 3D sensors and software, there are opportunities to not only make law enforcement more efficient, but also allow them to concentrate on what matters most: the health and safety of the public.

There are endless use cases for 3D data use by law enforcement including:

  1. Pre-incident planning: Imagine rifling through a set of building blueprints and attempting to mentally stitch together these documents to approximate how a building is constructed. That is unfortunately what our fire departments must do in the face of an emergency. By leveraging 3D data, law enforcement and first responders could leverage a 3D “digital twin”, a 3D representation of a building, to better understand ingress/egress points in the event of an emergency. These 3D models could also be utilized in training and simulations, ensuring that our law enforcement officers are provided the right information to be able to respond as quickly as possible.
  2. Evidence documentation: Today’s processes to document accidents and crime scenes are sorely lacking. We still rely heavily on 2D data (i.e. photographs, videos, descriptions), to properly document the specifics of an accident or emergency. These processes are not only imprecise, but also time consuming; it could take hours to simply capture the necessary amount of photographs or properly inspect a crime scene. By leveraging 3D scanning, law enforcement could quickly and efficiently document a crime scene, shifting the focus back to the main priority of ensuring public safety and supporting victims
  3. Crime scene and accident reconstruction: Not only does 3D data aid in documentation, it also provides a level of fidelity and precision to recreate a crime scene or accident. Through 3D virtual walkthroughs, law enforcement officers are able to analyze a crime scene or accident in ways they could never do prior. Additionally, 3D would allow for more thorough investigations without the risk of contamination or damage to the original scene.
  4. Surveillance and Monitoring: Due to its spatial and depth measurements, 3D data would provide additional surveillance and monitoring capabilities that far exceed today’s established technologies. In the event of a natural disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake, first responders can leverage 3D data’s increased depth perception to more quickly and easily find people through debris. 3D data would provide law enforcement with a better understanding of physical relationships between objects and individuals, making it easier to map potential threats and respond more effectively in remote monitoring scenarios.

3D Data Tailwinds in Law Enforcement

3D data and scanning technology use within law enforcement is just starting to experience tailwinds. For instance, the Corpus Christi police department is beginning the process to upgrade their tech to include 3D scanners to be utilized for crime scene reconstruction. Police departments in the UK are leveraging 3D data in investigations to ascertain suspect details such as height, as well as analyze ballistics.

Although 3D data use by law enforcement is still in its infancy, the decreasing costs of 3D scanners is making it easier than ever for police departments and first responders to adopt 3D technology. By creating more accessible 3D hardware and software, we can empower law enforcement to more effectively and efficiently promote public safety.

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