MPS investing in laser scanning technology to reduce congestion

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has invested in further laser scanning technology to help reduce traffic congestion caused by collisions on London’s roads.

Sep 6, 2012
By Paul Jacques
Ravjeet Gupta

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has invested in further laser scanning technology to help reduce traffic congestion caused by collisions on London’s roads.

The MPS has purchased two additional state-of-the-art RIEGL 3D laser scanners that will be used to collect vital evidence at the scene of collisions. Data collected by the scanners is then used to produce high quality graphics and detailed plans of collision scenes for use in subsequent inquiries and court cases.

The MPS already has three laser scanners in regular use by collision investigators.

The MPS was one of the first forces in the UK to adopt this technology and undertook extensive trials before purchasing the RIEGL laser scanners from 3D Laser Mapping.

“Before committing budget and resources, to laser scanning in general and this device in particular, it was important that we fully understood the benefits it afforded,” explained Sergeant Dave Kingston, senior collision investigator at the MPS Road Death Investigation Unit.

“An independent pilot study concluded that the laser scanners delivered an onsite time saving of 50 per cent compared to traditional total station surveying and collected 30 per cent more data than other scanners we trialled, helping us cut road closure times by up to 90 minutes.”

He added: “This latest purchase means we now have laser scanning capability within each of the investigation units, meaning every collision we respond to can be processed to obtain highly accurate measurements of the entire scene in the shortest possible time.”

The laser scanner incorporates echo digitisation and online waveform analysis to maximise accuracy of measurement, even under adverse weather conditions. Achieving accuracies of 5mm at ranges of up to 600m, the scanners can measure up to 122,000 points per second with a 100 x 360-degree field of view.

Earlier this year, 3D Laser Mapping launched a new website to support police collision investigators.

As the nationwide rollout of laser scanners continues, the website offers a secure online forum that allows collision investigators to communicate with colleagues around the country, sharing experience and expertise to build an online community. The site also includes up-to-date information on hardware, accessories and software, as well as downloadable reference materials. The regularly updated FAQ section provides solutions to common queries and unanswered questions.

Additional guidance and support is available from a team of dedicated laser scanning professionals.

Early users of 3D Laser Mapping’s forensic investigation web resource include Essex Police.

Duncan Thurlwell, Essex forensic collision investigator, said the website was a really useful resource to share tips and seek technical information.

“Best practice can be exchanged and it’s a way to instantly distribute the learning and development already undertaken by other forces preventing expensive and unnecessary duplication,” said Mr Thurlwell.

Gary Baldwin, a supervisor in the Forensic Collision Investigation Unit of Hampshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police Joint Operations Unit (JOU), added: “I am sure this forum will become the main port of call for tips and information to progress our scanning skills. It has already proved extremely useful when integrating our GPS system and is the ideal tool to keep in touch with officers spread over four counties.”

“Although extensive trials of laser scanners have been completed, this is still a relatively new application of this technology,” commented 3D Laser Mapping’s managing director Jon Chicken. “We therefore wanted to provide as much information and support as possible in an easy to access way. The online forum is intended to be a sharing platform allowing users to interact with other investigators to share best practice, discuss common support issues and access training materials and product upgrades.”

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