er to create an exact color copy of the as-built condition, scene or environment. In
the same way that a digital camera, a tape
measure and graph paper are tools of the
forensic investigator, 3-D documentation
is increasingly becoming an asset in the
The 3-D scanners capture everything
from the irregularity of a hairline crack
in a plaster wall to the vastness of the
interior of an industrial warehouse still
smoldering from a fire the night before;
from the length, depth and curvature of
a tire mark left on an asphalt street to the
compaction depth of the hood of a vehicle involved in a collision; from the tread
and risers of a staircase to the slope and
paint stripe location of a crosswalk that
extends to a big-box retailer’s front door.
The application of the scanner is limited
only by the creative application of the
What are the benefits?
Time: The time an engineer spends on-site evaluating a property claim significantly decreases using a 3-D scanner.
While the engineer and claims adjuster
conduct the investigation, the 3-D scanner can run in the background, taking
millions of measurements in minutes.
This potentially results in reduced time
(and cost) than it would have taken to
achieve the same level of documentation
using traditional methods.
Accuracy: With one million data
points collected per second, an investigator can gather critical measurements as
well as those which seem insignificant at
the time, but may later prove to be critical
to a case. With accuracy of up to +/- 2mm
and a range of up to 330m, the data collected is remarkably accurate. This may be
significant when a property claim occurs
on a dynamic site, one that has changed
between the date of loss and when a notice or suit is filed. Being able to document a scene as soon as possible digitally
and in complete 3-D accuracy is extremely valuable, especially when a building or
business needs to get back online to avoid
increasing business interruption claims.
Safety: Scanner use can enhance the
safety of those needing to respond to a
claim. For example, the scanner has been
used for industrial building collapses
As the insurance market con- tinues to see an increase in the complexity of risks being underwritten, the techniques
used by property adjusters, damage ap-
praisers and forensic engineers must
adapt. Three-dimensional (3-D) laser
scanning allows adjusters and investiga-
tors to not only document the scope of
damage digitally and in real time, but
provides data that can be used by risk
management and underwriting teams for
future risk assessments.
Accurate documentation and preserva-
tion of evidence is a critical component of
any forensic investigation. The use of 3-D
laser scanning enables an investigator to
document a complex object or an entire
accident scene in the form of millions of
measurable points, often in less time than
traditional methods. Not only is the level
of documentation detail staggering, but
the scanner can measure objects consid-
ered immeasurable just a few years ago.
In their simplest form, 3-D scanners
utilize lasers to generate three-dimensional copies to millimeter accuracy of
complex, real-life objects and environments. The end result of a single scan is a
collection of millions of measurable data
points containing relative x, y, z locations.
A series of scans are then stitched togeth-
3-D Laser Scanning
Captures the Picture
By Ryan Siekmann