Forensic Mapping: Polish Police uses Leica's total stations with eSURV software (CYBID) for crash documentation
Accident reconstruction training at the Polish Police.with CYBID's software PLAN.
Source: Voivodeship Police Headquarters Katowice
Leica's technology and specialized forensic mapping software for crash documentation deployed at the Polish Police.
External conditions for conducting documentation and investigation of traffic events play a significant role
In traffic accidents, as in other incidents such as crime or fire/arson scenes, Police agencies conduct visual inspections and preserve evidence. The evidence provides a basis for analyzing and reconstructing the course of the incident. Generally, documentation and an investigation must be conducted immediately following an accident/incident. Police officers working on-scene sometimes need to conduct collision documentation in difficult external conditions - in adverse weather conditions like snow, rain, fog, etc. In large-scale events of hundreds of meters in range, the documentation can be lengthy and sometimes needs to be done both: during the day and at night. Every investigation is different. In many situations, responders are further burdened by factors such as stress, the circumstances of the event, and the emotional state of the victims and witnesses. Quickly documenting, cleaning up and reopening an accident scene to traffic also means significant time pressures for everyone involved.
The characteristics and the variety of traces in traffic accidents should not be underestimated
The traces of a traffic accident that need to be documented are far more than just the mechanoscopic traces visible to the naked eye directly on the body and chassis of the vehicles involved in the accident. They also include various types of traces left on the road surface. These are significant indicators for accident reconstruction and analysis. The vehicles involved in the accident or collision create tracks and marks by rolling, braking, locking, drifting or skidding. Besides, there may be different types of scratches, e.g., caused by the ground contact of overturned single-track vehicles: Grinding marks, drying marks, or shards of glass, lamps, or other shattered parts. In other words, a variety of traces and indicators need to be documented. Precise determination of the geometry of the track left on the roadway, e.g. determination of points marking the length of the skid marks, is usually only possible during documentation directly on-site.
The role of comprehensive documentation in accident reconstruction
The result of traffic event documentation and evidence gathering must be objective and precise and include the detected traces, the condition of involved vehicles and possibly injured persons, and the spatial relationships of all objects, traces and surroundings of the accident. The secured evidence is crucial for the correct reconstruction of the event. The evidence determines the probability of valid conclusions regarding the traffic parameters: before, during and after the collision. The material has a significant influence on the determination of the accident course and causes.
The problem: Immense challenges on-scene. The solution: TS10 and eSURV
The above-described set of factors a Police officer must consider when documenting an accident could impact a correct interpretation of what happened. The challenges at the scene regarding a visual inspection, the promptness of capturing the details of an event, taking into account the tracks' specification, the size of the investigated scene, the weather conditions, the people involved, etc., are immense. Nevertheless, Police authorities need to gather reliable evidence directly on-site for further investigation at a later stage.
CYBID, a Polish company specialized in the engineering of forensic mapping software and partner of Hexagon and Leica Geosystems, has developed a unique solution for traffic accidents documentation.
Leica-CYBID's solution is a complete system consisting of hardware and software tailored to the need for proper and comprehensive road accidents documentation. The system provides effective and efficient support for all emergency teams working on the incident scene, especially during the initial visual accident inspection and documentation, and for the analysis and reconstruction of the incident later on. The Leica-CYBID system consists of various software applications (eSURV, PLAN, V-SIM, PHOTORECT) and a Leica FlexLine TS10 total station.
The Leica TS10, a high-end manual total station, is used for on-site accident mapping. The total station has an extended range of up to 10 km, making it suitable for documenting minor as well as major, long-range incidents. Due to its robustness, the TS10 can operate in temperatures ranging from -20 to +50°C. The Leica TS10 has an IP rating of 66, which means the device is splash water and dust protected. The backlit screen and keypad, laser target pointer, large 5" colour touch screen display allows for comfortable operation in different conditions and situations (day-night, working with gloves, etc.), and make the device an excellent tool for data collection of a traffic event.
To meet the demand for fast measurement of an accident site, the TS10 has been combined with CYBID's forensic mapping software eSURV. eSURV was developed and optimized specially for on-site measurement purposes. The workflow is simple: the data collected with the Leica total station on-site is analyzed and processed by the eSURV software, which creates a 2D drawing/a sketch also on-site.
The operation of the eSURV software is intuitive and minimizes the risk of human error. It corresponds with the current standard accident documentation methodology of the Polish Police. Even though the Leica total station TS10 war designed for geodetic and surveying usage, combined with the CYBID eSURV software, makes it easy for a trained law enforcement officer to document a traffic accident on-site without specialized surveying know-how.
In addition to the eSURV application, there are also the following software modules available:
- CYBID PLAN is designed for the creation of situational drawings/sketches and 3D visualizations. It contains modules for drawing roads and intersections, libraries including vertical and horizontal markings, silhouettes of vehicles and other road users (including body positions among others in case of personal injury), global and local reference systems, working in layers, visualization of weather conditions, support for WMS (orthophoto map), tools for dimensioning, scaling, import of bitmaps (e.g. photos, geodetic bases), vehicle databases, the possibility to import point clouds and 3D models.
CYBID Plan - 3D visualization of the road accident scenario
- CYBID V-SIM - is used to create simulations of traffic accident scenarios and vehicle collisions. The V-SIM program imports the sketches created in the PLAN program. V-SIM allows the analysis of the course and consequences of vehicles' collisions with each other, with other road users and with terrain obstacles. V-SIM has a built-in force transmission and impulse collision model and a driver's model for simulating the driver's behaviour, including the possibility of simulating driver’s failures and damage to the vehicle. In addition, V-SIM has a technical database of vehicle models and a video recording function. V-SIM also allows the visualization of different weather conditions. In this software module, the observer (witness) figure can be placed at any location on the scene. Same for the driver and the passenger of the vehicle.
V-SIM is widely used by the experts of the Police forensic laboratories and accident experts and the experts appointed by the courts (expert witnesses).
- CYBID PHOTORECT - developed for the photogrammetric image transformation. It enables the conversion of photographs into metric ortho plans. PHOTORECT integrates the photographic documentation into a situational sketch. Photogrammetrically transformed images can be used, e.g. as a carrier of information about tracks or traces on the road surface, the geometry of the location and at the same time as an indication of geolocation of elements/details of objects (evidence).
The Leica-CYBID system is currently being introduced to the Polish Police throughout the country as a standard tool for accident documentation. The system delivers reliable and fast documentation of a traffic incident and its location regardless of external conditions.
The Leica TS10 and CYBID eSURV solution will make it possible for Polish Police officers to provide digital documentation of an traffic incident to crash and accident experts or courts for analysis, investigation, and reconstruction purposes.
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About the author: Dariusz Bułka, President of the Board of Directors of CYBID
For over 25 years Dariusz Bułka has been developing software and systems for documentation, analysis and reconstruction of crash and crime scenes. Bułka is the chairman of the board and a partner in the company CYBID. CYBID's solutions are widely used by the Polish police and other public safety organizations, insurance companies, forensic experts and accident experts.
Dariusz Bulka is a research teams leader in a variety of projects conducted by CYBID together with leading Polish scientific institutions.
Bulka is also the head of research conducted by CYBID and the Central Police Forensic Laboratory, in the project developed in 2020: "The system of marking, recording and tracking the circulation of evidence with the use of modern geoinformation technologies".
Graduate of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Automatic Control and Computer Science with a major in Computer Science. PhD with the specialization "Neural Networks" at AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow.