Geo Week News

July 25, 2011

Virtues of digital documentation for crash-scene clearing sung stateside, too

Last week I noted that UK police officials had significantly invested in laser scanners, in order to more quickly clear crash sites, and thus save money by getting business moving before delays caused economic impact. Made sense. 

This week, New Hampshire police are talking up the benefits of photogrammetry in much the same way. Following a crash in Stoddard, N.H., that left one woman critically injured, the road on which the accident occurred, Route 9, was “closed in both directions for a couple of hours.” (And, if you know New England roadways at all, you know that probably made it virtually impossible to get anywhere near where the crash occurred – often, there’s only one way to get from point A to B.)

However, said Lt. Jerome Maslan, things could have been a lot worse if not for photogrammetry’s benefits in documenting the crash site:

[I]t would have taken at least twice or three times as long if it hadn’t been for the department’s use of photogrammetry. 

With software and cameras purchased through a grant from the New Hampshire Highway Safety Committee, the use of photogrammetry allows emergency workers to clear the scenes of accidents much faster but also more safely, Maslan said. 

“Through the computer-generated programs, it’ll create a diagram of the scene to scale,” he said. “By being able to open up the scene of accidents quicker it drastically reduces the number of secondary accidents, typically caused when someone approaches the scene too quickly or is distracted by it.” 

I’ve got a call in to Maslan to see just what kinds of diagrams he’s creating, and whether it’s all 2D or if there’s a 3D component to it (or if there should/could be), but it’s clear that this kind of technology is quickly catching on with police departments worldwide. 

With that adoption, though, comes plenty of questions: Is there enough benefit in laser scanning to make the much larger investment over photogrammetry worth it? What kind of accuracy do these officers need to document the crash sites appropriately? What are the training discrepancies. 

I’ll be looking into these over the next couple of weeks.

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