Customize Menus to Fit Your Agency's Mapping Needs
By Duke Dutch, Feb. 11, 2015
Robotic total stations and real-time kinematic systems (RTK GPS) are designed for surveying and engineering applications. As a result, the equipment has about 10 times the menu choices as well as numerous steps of operation that have no application for crime and crash scene mapping. From my perspective as a former law-enforcement trainer, it’s like fitting a square peg into a round hole. Fortunately, there is an easy solution.
Unlike other manufacturers, Leica Geosystems’ logic creates a single hardware platform with an infinite number of customizable menu screens and choices. Once a user’s needs have been determined, a Leica Geosystems representative simply customizes the menus and steps for the operation and saves the changes under a new user-specific profile.
When comparing surveying applications to crime scene documentation and fatal vehicle mapping, major mathematical differences are found in setup and orientation. Menu customization allows users to minimize differences and maximize efficiency.
Menu Customization Eliminates Unnecessary Screens
Rather than foresight and backsight positions fundamental to surveying, mapping uses a relative reference and a north perspective. It may seem like a minor point, but this concept is not easily understood.
The ability to customize the menus in Leica Geosystems solutions allows users to eliminate 90 percent of the unnecessary surveying screens. This means that new users of mapping applications can be trained with a cheat sheet in a very short period of time. It also means there is less confusion resulting from surveying logic and terms.
Menu Customization Minimizes Steps
The advantage of simplified logic is exemplified by RTK systems and the orientation process. When using typical RTK systems, users must work in either latitude and longitude or Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinates. But law enforcement professionals prefer working from a 0, 0, 0 origin point.
Since the reference point and north are already known in RTK systems, a user should theoretically be able to turn on the device, pick a reference point and start mapping. That is exactly what happens with Leica’s customizable menus—the theoretical becomes practical. With most systems, multiple steps are required to do what is called a transformation. While it’s a simple mathematical calculation that moves the orientation from one coordinate system to another, it can be quite complicated for someone without a surveying background. It’s also unnecessary in an application where everything is relative to a small area.
With customizable menus and options, law enforcement professionals don’t have to face a big learning curve in an effort to force a surveying instrument to fit their needs. Instead, they can just get to work mapping the scene.
For more information on how to improve your crime and crash scene documentation, please contact us.
———————– About the author: Duke Dutch has worked as an instructor for the FBI, HSA and ATF for mapping post-blast scenes for more than 14 years. He also worked as a contractor for the U.S. Navy and for MPRI in the area of mapping of pre- and post-blast facilities as well as for the Earth Radar Project. He has trained hundreds of agencies over the last 20 years on total stations and GPS and RTK, authored numerous papers on automated mapping using robotic and GNSS systems, and is a contributor to the Student Manual on Advanced Post Blast Investigations by the Homeland Security Administration.