The Next Big Laser Scanning Application for CSI Teams?

When officials at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Criminalistics Laboratory in Olathe, Kansas, were making their case to procure a Leica ScanStation PS10 for their CSI Section, one benefit they presented was the opportunity to provide infrastructure protection for public safety. Whether in the aftermath of a mudslide in Washington or a tornado in Kansas, in areas identified as soft targets for possible terrorist threats, or even in the midst of an active shooting as occurred at Fort Hood in Texas, immediate access to spatial data can mean the difference between life and death.
“The more information a responder has when responding to the scene of a reported emergency, regardless of type,” said CSI Section Supervisor Ryan Rezzelle, “the more empowered they will be to make decisions that will save lives.”

Infrastructure Scanning is Routine Service

While infrastructure protection is not the typical job of a CSI team, the work makes sense to Rezzelle as a Johnson County employee. In addition to scanning approximately 40 crime scenes per year for the area’s 19 law enforcement agencies, when time allows, the CSI team will be scanning key infrastructure. The project is incorporated into the CSI team’s normal routine of services at no extra cost to the county or its citizens. “Essentially,” he said, “we’re just fulfilling our mission to create a safe place to live for citizens.”
The infrastructure scanning project is not only complementary to the county’s mission but also feasible. “We actually tested the infrastructure process on our crime laboratory,” Rezzelle said. “So we know that it is sound.” Shortly after the 2012 opening the new state-of-the-art facility, Rezzelle’s team collected a total of 152 interior and exterior scans of the lab to ensure they could handle working with a large volume of data. An average crime scene, he explains, typically requires two to 10 scan positions. “When you start talking about scanning infrastructure, Rezzelle said, “you could be talking about give or take 100 scans you collect from that site to make sure that you have everything filled in the way that you need. We want to make sure the data set is complete.”

First Infrastructure Scan is a Test in Optimization

The first infrastructure scan, which is under way, is the Johnson County Courthouse. “Because the courthouse is so instrumental for our operation,” Rezzelle said, “we wanted that to become a model for this infrastructure protection project.” The courthouse will also serve as a test for optimizing efficiency in future projects, including select schools and jail facilities.
For the courthouse, the scans will be capturing publicly accessible areas such as the public entry level and courtroom level. “Truthfully, at this point, this is something of a scientific experiment to figure out the best way not only to capture but also deliver the data that we gather from our courthouse.”

Laser Scan Data Gives First Responders Actionable Information

Once the estimated 16 to 24 hours of onsite scanning is complete, the team will focus its attention on turning the hundreds of millions of data points into a usable product and then interfacing with county IT professionals responsible for delivery. “You can get quite savvy at data collection,” Rezzelle said. “It’s converting the data that you collect into a deliverable product that Joe Deputy or Jane Officer on the street can access and use and get actionable, tactical data on-the-fly—that is the real challenge here.”
Rezzelle already knows Leica Cyclone 3D point cloud processing software can handle the data. “The Cyclone program, we found with the 152 scans we had of our laboratory, quite readily took this large volume of data and allowed us to work with it,” Rezzelle said. “We are going to get the courthouse scan data into Cyclone, and we’re going to work from there to determine the best way to make it available.”
Rezzelle’s team has many viewing strategies to consider, including Cyclone-created fly-through animations or interactive panoramic “bubble views” created with free Leica TruView software, which allows users to zoom in and pan over point clouds as if virtually standing in the scene. “Even if we break this down to some basic format—TruViews where you’re able to navigate via a map from TruView to TruView—there will still have to be a way either to have it delivered on-demand to the people that need it or to have it present on their devices in an ongoing basis.” Determining the most feasible delivery option will be the job of the Justice Information Management System, the county’s law enforcement IT group. “It’s going to be somewhat dependent on what their capability is also,” Rezzelle said, “but they are very highflying group of computer professionals, so I have very high expectations that it will be quite amazing.”
In infrastructure protection, the ultimate goal is saving people, and clear, accurate and timely data is vital. “Granted, there is always the ability to access architectural plans and floor plans and different layouts, but to have a system where you have the actual scan data of a site accessible by the people that need it to respond in an emergency, you’re giving them something along the lines of real-time data.” Rezzelle said. “Actionable information beats working in the dark any given day.”
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.
Image: A point cloud of Union Station in Kansas City. Watch the video below to see a fly-through from training scans captured in 2011 by members of the JCSO CSI Team.

DID YOU KNOW?: If your application involves protecting against possible terrorist threats, you might qualify for a Homeland Security grant to purchase Leica ScanStation technology. Contact us today to learn more!

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