In Brief: 3D Scanning Crime Scenes with Lidar

By Norman Chan

And the fascination with law enforcement's use of technology.

This recent report by Roswell local news was spread around quite a bit yesterday: the local police department have purchased an $86,000 Faro Focus 3D laser scanner for digitizing the environment around crime scenes. As the television report indicates, Roswell police will be able to use these environment mappings--the same Lidar technology used in landscape/construction surveying and autonomous cars--to precisely study environment data (think distances and trajectories) as well illustrate the scene for judges and jurors in courtrooms. And as tech blogs were quick to indicate, it's futuristic crime-solving tech brought to reality (Iron Man 3 had a forensics scene utilizing something similar). It made me think about the our fascination with the technology employed by law enforcement, both in fiction and real life. From Robocop to the NSA, there's something both reassuring and scary about figures of authority being equipped with the latest technology--GPS car cannons, optical tracking, and the use of crime-fighting robots are very real. Farfetched crime-busting technology may be catnip for television and moviegoing audiences, but it's strangely unnerving when we see it being used in our neighborhoods.