Expert Insight: Peter Glueck. The RTC360's Data Security and the lifecycle of a court case

Authenticate Leica RTC360 scan data in Leica Cyclone software with the new Data Security feature

Data Security Expert Insight - RTC360 - Peter Glueck, Reality Capture Product Manager Leica Geosystems

3D laser scanners, like the Leica RTC360, are commonly used to capture, visualise, and analyse crime, fire, crash, and other scenes where immediate evidence collection on-site is crucial. Scanning scenes with the RTC360, for example, enables comprehensive 3D capture with fewer technicians, mitigating evidence degradation and clearing sites faster. 

Forensic digital twins harvested at a scene can be analysed and used for evidence presentations in court. However, as this technology becomes increasingly common in judicial proceedings, the need to validate captured data is clear: verifying the integrity of the original data is necessary to support conclusions developed from evidence examined and displayed using digital twins.

Leica Geosystems developed the newly released Data Security feature specifically to address this challenge and ensure that users of the RTC360 and Leica Cyclone REGISTER 360 PLUS have an easy and straightforward way to prove the authenticity of their captured data, meeting the highest data security standards.

In this expert insight article, Peter Glück, a Product Manager at Leica Geosystems specialising in Reality Capture and terrestrial laser scanners, explains the role of reliable scan data in the public safety sector and how the RTC360’s new Data Security feature enables verification while fitting effortlessly into existing scanning workflows. 

Reality Capture and Public Safety

Over the last few decades, police officers, crime and fire investigators, and collision reconstructionists have used reality capture technologies, both hardware and software, with increasing frequency. Today, digital reality technologies are a widely accepted standard of evidence collection and scene documentation, and Leica Geosystems continues to develop solutions dedicated to and tailor-made for these uses.

In public safety, our primary users share a scientific, forensic approach and require reliable, correct, and complete data. Additionally, their end-stakeholders, like prosecutors, must trust the quality and integrity of the digital twins created from this data.

All these users are highly concerned with data integrity because they need to prove that scans created in the field are the same that were imported and processed. However, the potential for accidental or intentional data manipulation, such as data hacks or deletion, can interfere with the trust of digital data. Therefore, it is important to have a method for tracing the data from the field to the office to the courtroom. 

Leica Data Security Expert Insight Peter Glueck - Reality Capture Product Manager - RTC360 matrix
Data Security feature in the RTC360 laser scanner enables for data authentication

The Data Security Feature and the Scanning Workflow

The new Data Security feature was designed to respond to this challenge and works with the Leica RTC360 and Cyclone REGISTER 360 PLUS for office processing. This solution enables users in or outside of the public safety sector to digitally sign data in the field after finishing scanning jobs. Additionally and importantly, during import, users can verify data integrity and create a report proving the original data was imported.

The RTC360’s Data Security feature accomplishes this with a digital signature, an algorithm used to validate authenticity and integrity that provides security to all raw scans. Each digital signature generates a hash function - a string of generated numbers and letters unique to each file. As a one-way function, the hash value creates a digital fingerprint that cannot be applied to two distinct files, enabling traceability and authentication of data upon import. 

Solution centric and embedded in the existing workflow, the feature benefits from the way hardware and software work hand in hand. There is no change in the overall process for current users regarding data collection in the field or during data import in the office. Instead, the Data Security feature provides an additional option that, after being enabled, allows the whole process to run in the background.

The benefit of the RTC360-Cyclone REGISTER 360 PLUS solution is that you do not need additional software packages or separate tools to hash or sign the data or write blockers to protect data from manipulation – it is all included in the overall solution. Integrating the feature is fast, easy, and streamlined. 

Confidence Throughout the Scanning and Import Process

Once the feature has been enabled on the RTC360, the scanner interface displays a padlock icon to tell you the status of your current job, whether the feature is enabled, and if the job has been signed. With clear visuals, status reminders will ensure you sign the job before shutting down your equipment and leaving the field.

Once you are finished capturing a scene and signing the scans, all the data is stored on the USB stick, along with the security validation files. The import process is simple and the same as before: copy and paste your data onto a local drive, drop it into REGISTER 360 PLUS, import the data, and even open a pdf report that shows, line by line and file by file, the status and verification of the data.

Data Security RTC360 - Expert Insight Peter Glueck - REGISTER360-PLUS
Laser scan data vertification and authentication in REGISTER 360 PLUS

The RTC360’s Data Security Feature and the Lifecycle of a Court Case

The RTC360’s Data Security feature, easily enabled and used during data collection and import, has an important impact throughout the lifecycle of a case. For example, when responding to the scene of a multi-vehicle accident where people are injured or even killed, the whole scene with its many details need to be immediately documented.

A forensic specialist takes comprehensive scans with the RTC360, acquiring evidentiary data that will be used to build a forensic digital twin of the crash site and from which witness testimony can be checked, along with other analyses crucial to judicial proceedings. With the Data Security feature, the investigator or reconstructionist is confident the collected data is verified and secure.

Data Security RTC360 - Expert Insight Peter Glueck - REGISTER360-PLUS
The deliverable: file verification report created in REGISTER 360 PLUS

Later, if the accident becomes a court case, the crash scene forensic specialist could be called as an expert witness and will need to prove the validity of the digital documentation introduced into evidence. The RTC360-Cyclone REGISTER 360 PLUS Data Security workflow enables prosecutors to easily argue and demonstrate that the same data shown in court is the original data taken in the field, establishing the credibility of the expert’s testimony. Given that this testimony influences potential convictions, credibility is essential. 

Ultimately, the certainty the RTC360’s new Data Security feature ensures is crucial to instilling trust in powerful reality capture tools that play an important role in today’s judicial system.

Leica Data Security Expert Insight Peter Glueck
Author: Peter Glück
Reality Capture Expert and Product Manager Leica Geosystems

Related content:

Read more about the feature, including the technology, requirements, and workflow, on the new Data Security page
Watch the video interview with Dan Prewitt, Public Safety specialist and Reality Capture enthusiast in the Learning Centre.
Do you want to know more about the Forensic Digital Twin? Visit our blog page: Forensic Digital Twin

For news and updates from Public Safety, Security and Forensics follow our channel on LinkedIn.

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