Geo Week News

January 2, 2013

NTSB is on board with laser scanning


Most of the big U.S. government agencies have blogs now. It’s hard to believe anyone actually reads them (though Bob Burns writes a great blog for the Transportation Security Administration – no, seriously), but they pop up on my Google alerts from time to time and since government agencies can be among the most conservative in adopting new technologies, it’s interesting when a group like the National Transportation Safety Board declares they’re on board with laser scanning in a public forum like a blog.

Of course, laser scanning “is just one piece of technology necessary to fully support accident investigations,” but it’s still a nice endorsement of the technology by Joseph Kolly, director of NTSB’s Office of Research and Engineering:

Computer simulations created from data recorded by laser scene scanners are particularly helpful to replicate the accident environment back to the NTSB’s state-of-the-art laboratories in Washington. Imagine yourself within a movie set and placing a camera anywhere in the scene to view objects. With a computer simulation, you can observe an accident scene from any available vantage point and “walk” through an accident scene by moving the camera through the environment. These simulations can be used to study the accident environment as seen by an operator of a vehicle before or during an accident.

Kolly notes that precise measurements can also be taken and the crime scene just more uniformly and quickly documented in general. Which loyal SPAR readers of course already know (and 2011 SPAR attendees actually saw a presentation on the use of laser scanning from the NTSB’s Carl Schultheisz), but other state and regional transportation offices likely take some lead from the NTSB, so this broadcast of their use of scanning may very well trickle down to places where the technology is still relatively unknown. 

There is another question as to what Kolly was doing blogging on New Year’s Day, but I won’t go so far as to accuse him of being a workaholic…

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