Laser Scanning Aids Combat-Zone Investigators in their Battle Against Time

Whether in war or peace, the first steps in any forensic investigation are to preserve the integrity of the scene and ensure the safety of personnel. These concerns are magnified in a combat zone. Time is of the essence. With each passing minute, scene integrity decreases and potential threat to life increases.
With these considerations in mind, let’s look at contemporary post-blast forensic mapping methods and consider how 3D laser scanning can yield far superior, faster—and safer—results.

Combat-Zone Forensics Must Be Performed with Haste

In a combat zone, the forensic investigation must be completed post haste. Within a very small window of time, the area is secured; photographs are taken; measurements are made; locations are plotted and diagrammed; device fragments and other evidence are searched out, collected, documented and photographed.
Having done the best they can with the time they have, the investigators depart. Their findings are turned over and used to manually or digitally create a visual model of the scene. Any evidence or data overlooked, not measured, uncollected, or not captured in a photograph is lost—possibly forever.
Obviously, the potential for human error is great and the resultant data is less than ideal. In fact, the manual measurement methods commonly used in combat zone post-blast investigations yield approximately 40 to 50 points of measurement, according to post-blast expert Jean-Yves Vermette in “Forensic Investigation of Explosions.”

Speed, Accuracy and Safety Are Inherent in a 3D Laser Scanner

Clearly, combat-zone forensic investigators are in a battle against time. But the very things they struggle with—speed, accuracy, greater safety—are inherent to 3D laser scanning technology.

  • The laser scanner is fast. A single investigator armed with a 3D laser scanner can capture up to 4 million points of highly accurate measurements in less than 30 minutes.
  • The laser scanner affords a higher degree of user safety. It can be operated remotely from a secure area.
  • The laser scanner is impartial and comprehensive. It does not decide what is important. It captures everything within its sight in three dimensions. It is real data, not an interpretation or reconstruction of the scene. It is the scene.
  • The laser scan affords unlimited revisits to the blast scene. Because it has been forever captured in 3D exactly as it was found, the scene can be re-examined from any perspective; new measurements can be taken; new evidence can be examined.

The 3D laser scanner has revolutionized the way in which evidence and data is collected and analyzed. When deployed in a combat zone, the laser scanner provides enhanced personnel safety, exceptional speed and a level of accuracy that is unattainable through contemporary forensic mapping methods.
For more information on 3D laser scanning technology, contact us.
About the author: Wendy Lyons is journalist living in Canton, Georgia, who spent several years writing about surveying technology for POB magazine. She now focuses on covering laser scanning and other geospatial measurement solutions for public safety professionals.
Watch this video to see how 3D laser scanning captured a bus bombing post blast exercise at Raven’s Challenge VII (2013).

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