The Queensland Police Service has started using a CSIRO-developed hand-held laser scanner to capture data and create a 3D map of a crime scene.
Zebedee has been in use across the world since 2010, primarily for environmental and architectural purposes. It was originally designed for caving and mine mapping.
The partnership with Queensland Police marks the first time the device has been used for law enforcement purposes.
Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said the device cut down “thousands of hours” in investigation time previously spent mapping out a crime scene down to between 10 and 20 minutes.
The QPS has so far only purchased one Zebedee device at a cost of $37,000 for use in the forensic services unit for crime scene mapping, but it plans to roll out more devices more widely across the organisation, with a focus on vehicle accidents and incidents within the forensic crash unit.
The Zebedee is a hand-held laser device that sits on a spring and rotates while emitting laser beams that scan the environment to create a 3D field of view from 2D measurements. It can collect over 40,000 range measurements in a second, the CSIRO said.
Police use the data collected by the scanner to recreate the crime scene on their PC in 3D.
The name of the device came from a character in the 1970s animated TV show Magic Roundabout, who had a spring instead of legs, CSIRO’s Dr Jonathan Roberts said.
Police, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Jack Dempsey said the device had already been used in a number of operations in the past week.
“Normally the type of investigation our science field officers would undertake would have taken many operational hours to colate and gather statements to bring before the court process - whereas now it will take anything up to 20 minutes to gather that evidence in a way that will meet the judicial process," he said.
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said the device would also reduce interference at crime scenes.
“The impact on the crime scene is also an area of vital importance to us. The use of this type of equipment allows us to have a limited impact on the crime scene itself,” he said.
"But it’s the accuracy of the information that this device provides us that really does make it so beneficial to our people in the investigation of often quite serious crime.”