An 'x-ray'​ view of a crime scene highlighting bullet trajectories used for subsequent reconstruction and investigation.

Reality Capture and Laser Scanning Technology Are Increasingly Used in Public Safety. This is Why.

As a public safety professional, you probably often encounter challenging situations where the need to capture complex and sometimes inaccessible scenes is critical to support ongoing investigations. With rapid advancements in reality capture technology, it’s now possible to deploy highly portable terrestrial laser scanning systems that operate at the touch of a single button. You can use unmanned aircraft systems if physical access is restricted, or deploy mobile mapping systems where reality capture of large-scale environment is of highest priority. Even the latest GNSS sensors provide the versatility to visualize the measured points located on a scene. All these hardware sensors come together with purpose-built software solutions to support investigative efforts which help preserve, reveal and communicate reality.

Innovations such as the BLK2GO handheld imaging scanner provide a fast way to document a visual representation of a space in a fully immersive point cloud with images. Watch the video >

A wide range of industries are undergoing journeys into a digital future where environments are increasingly digitized and users are able to extract actionable information at the time and location where it matters the most. A good example of this is presented in the use of Leica TruView, software that allows multiple layers of information to be combined – from the scene to the office – and enables public safety professionals from all facets of an investigation to immerse themselves into the crime scene without leaving their office. Within hours of the start of an investigation and field deployment, reality capture solutions allow anyone with access to a web browser (connected or offline) to witness all the evidence and scene information captured with laser scanning devices – a truly transformative and established process that has reshaped the adoption of reality capture data over the past decade.

RELATED: Watch the On-Demand Webinar – Public Safety in the Age of Reality Capture

Regardless of the activity – be it scene investigation, security planning, border patrol, route mapping, or other – public safety professionals are already taking advantage of this transformation with Leica Geosystems solutions by freezing crime scenes and crash scenes in time, sometimes even in the harshest of conditions, such as darkness and extreme weather. This guarantees no evidence is left out of an investigation and operations can be restored in as short a time as possible, like removal of road closures.

Referred to as the “PDF” of reality capture, Leica TruView allows users to measure, integrate and collaborate based on the data or other evidence and intelligence appended to the scene. Using just a USB stick, local network, private cloud or public cloud as a collaboration environment, this highly flexible and rapid output of a project is available to all stakeholders. Explore a mock scene here >

Uses of Reality Capture for Public Safety

The inherent 3D nature of laser scanning technology – as well as recently developed mobile mapping and photogrammetry-based solutions – allows you to revisit the scene and view from user-defined vantage points. Crime scene reconstruction, trajectory analysis, blood spatter analysis, crash simulation, crime scene drawing and event pre-planning are some of the many uses of reality capture data in the realm of public safety that can be leveraged to reveal new perspectives.

But how do you go from capturing data with a laser scanner, handheld imaging scanner or visual positioning rover to obtaining actionable data, such as bullet trajectory analysis? The answer is by using an integrated suite of software solutions that cover the full capture-process-deliver workflow and support all major sensor platforms – from handheld in-picture measurement devices, to UAV systems and everything in between.

Leica Geosystems has developed Map360 scene diagramming and accident reconstruction software to support the processing and use of reality capture data in the production of court-ready deliverables, leveraging the individual and combined strength of sensors.

Converting digital reality data into court-ready deliverables is possible using Map360 software. The above image illustrates an example of a ballistic azimuth and elevation diagram. With rapid advancements in technology, today it’s possible to collect, process and produce final deliverables as shown in this example in less than 60 minutes.

Being able to fuse information from terrestrial to airborne platforms into one homogeneous reality capture information database is a goal achieved through the integration of Map360 with Leica JetStream software technology. With this solution, users can combine airborne data produced using Leica Infinity Survey Software to deliver contextual information, such as the detailed 3D scans from the Leica RTC360, together with data from total stations or GNSS and mobile sensor mapping platforms that can further extend coverage. This provides a fused view from multiple perspectives to support their final analysis.

Enabling Collaborative Environments for Public Safety

When all stakeholders are able to connect to the same singular digital truth, projects can be more efficient, decisions are best informed as well as the big picture and the small details understood. The key word to achieve this is connectivity. So, how can users leverage connectivity among public safety stakeholders? 

Interoperability allows everyone working on a scene to work on the same reality capture database in a collaborative environment. Leica JetStream is the platform that allows users to connect sensors and workflows for data production (for instance, Infinity, Pegasus Manager, Cyclone) with data consumption (such as Map360, TruView) in a seamless manner. No imports, no exports.

Speed, Scale and Simplicity. These three simple words define our ambition and our goal where total end-to-end project productivity is concerned. At Hexagon we believe it’s important to provide tools that are domain-centric, remove complexity and address that final business. A single button to capture reality and a single button to validate bullet trajectory – that is the end solution goal and foundation on which our journey continues.

To speak with someone who can provide guidance on maximizing the efficiency of your scene documentation and mapping techniques, please contact us.

Note: A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn. Follow Faheem on LinkedIn for more reality capture insights.

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