£2.7 million to roll out 3D laser scanning

The roll-out of 3D laser scanning technology by police forces across England is set to drive down the £1 billion annual cost of congestion caused by collisions on motorways and reduce crash investigation times by 39 minutes per incident.

Jan 12, 2012
By Paul Jacques
Reported e-scooter user casualties, by sex and age, Great Britain: year ending June 2021.

The roll-out of 3D laser scanning technology by police forces across England is set to drive down the £1 billion annual cost of congestion caused by collisions on motorways and reduce crash investigation times by 39 minutes per incident.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded 27 police forces across England £2.7 million worth of funding for the implementation of 3D laser scanners. The Government hopes that the technology will shorten motorway closures after crashes as the scanners will save time by quickly making a 3D image of the whole crash site, rather than investigators painstakingly surveying multiple sections of a scene.

This digital image of the site can then be viewed on a computer screen remotely, allowing investigators to take measurements of where vehicles are in relation to each other and examine other important evidence.

The funding, together with police and the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) contributions, will enable the forces to purchase 37 scanners. Thames Valley and Hampshire police forces, which share ICT services, will receive the most scanner units. The forces will implement five scanners after receiving a grant of £395,675 from the DfT.

NPIA Chief Executive Nick Gargan, said: “The 3D laser scanning project is innovative and will enable motorways to be opened more quickly after incidents, passing a direct benefit to the public.

“The project also supports a standardised approach to surveying motorway incident scenes, in line with the police service’s Information Systems Improvement Strategy (ISIS) strategy of using IT to enable business change within the service.”

CLEAR action plan

The wider roll-out of 3D laser scanning technology is part of a government-led initiative known as ‘CLEAR’ (Collision, Lead, Evaluate, Act, Re-open). This initiative is delivering an action plan aimed at reducing delays caused by incidents in order to keep traffic moving.

Roads Minister Mike Penning said traffic jams account for a £1 billion cost in lost hours for the economy and the 3D laser scanners will be rolled out quickly where they are needed most.

“This will benefit drivers by reducing incident clear-up times by 39 minutes on average,” he added.

In 2010 there were more than 18,000 full or partial motorway closures lasting a total of more than 20,000 hours. A government strategy to tackle congestion caused by motorway closures and drive down the £1 billion annual cost to the economy was published in May by the minister.

Assistant Chief Constable Sean White, of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said: “The provision of the latest, leading-edge 3D laser scanning technology to assist in the expeditious and detailed scanning of collision scenes will make a very important contribution to properly investigating fatal and life changing collisions while always being mindful of the level of economic and other disruption that closures of the strategic road network inevitably cause.

“Police forces acquiring this equipment will be in a better position to manage such critical events in a more efficient way and present the most accurate and detailed evidence from the laser scanning devices to criminal, civil and coroners’ courts. The equipment will be deployed day and night across England and will make a real difference to improving the capability of collision investigators, reducing delays for all road users and re-opening motorways and other strategic roads at the earliest opportunity.

“As agencies we will work together in the months ahead to closely monitor the introduction of this new equipment to ensure that the benefits of this investment are fully realised, both for collision investigation and the free flow of traffic.”

Dr Graham Hunter, managing director of Nottingham-based 3D Laser Mapping, says laser scanning has been proven to offer significant advantages over more traditional survey techniques for crash investigation, making it

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