When it comes to cutting edge technology, there are a few industries that consistently lead the way in terms of innovation and adoption.
These include healthcare, auto manufacturing, and law enforcement. The latter has made some especially significant strides over the past 18 months, adopting new technologies that are making the challenge of solving crimes easier and more efficient.
Four Ways New Technology is Changing Criminal Investigations
For law enforcement agencies — including local police departments and higher-up organizations like the FBI and CIA — solving crimes is a time-sensitive matter.
The longer a crime goes undetected, the more likely it will become a cold case.
They say that the first 48 hours are the most crucial, with the odds of finding out what happened rapidly disintegrating after the first two days come to a close.
While there will always be unsolved crimes and cold cases that take years to pick apart, a variety of new technologies are providing law enforcement agents with optimism like never before.
For a better understanding of what’s happening on the ground level, let’s highlight a few of the latest trends:
1. 3D Scanning Recreates Crime Scenes
In 2017, two caretakers in Arvada, Colorado were indicted by a grand jury after it was found that their cigarettes caused a fire that killed three people, including a four-year-old child. And while it typically would have taken investigators days or weeks to process a crime scene, it took the Arvada Police Department just six hours.
The speed of the investigation was thanks to a new technology known as FARO. The 3D scanner is able to take images from a crime scene and splice them together to create 3D models that can be viewed in high-resolution from any angle.
"Investigators use video and pictures to document crime scenes but they sometimes don't capture everything need to build a case. It's time consuming work to document every aspect of a home," Jessica Oh reports for 9News. "Now, investigators say they don't have to take as many pictures or collect as much evidence."
As more successful cases are recorded, look for law enforcement agencies across the country to adopt FARO and other similar technologies.
2. Social Media and Open Source Data
In March 2015, Brittney Gargol, 18, was found dead in Saskatoon, Canada. Near her body, police found a belt that they believed was key evidence in the murder. So they took to social media to see if they could figure out what happened in the hours leading up to her catastrophic death. What they found sent shivers through their spines.
In a pre-party selfie taken by Cheyenne Rose Antoine, she and Gargol are seen smiling at the camera. Wrapped around Antoine’s waist was that recognizable black belt found at the scene of the crime.
Using this as evidence, investigators were able to put the pressure on Antoine, and she later pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
This wasn’t the first time social media was used to investigate a crime and find evidence – and it certainly won’t be the last. It’s currently one of the fastest-growing strategies of local law enforcement agencies, though there are still some challenges associated with how to use it.
Many agencies are still wary of doing too much (because of security concerns) and more sophisticated social media policies will need to be developed before social media becomes a primary form of investigative work.
3. Advanced Forensic Science Tools
"With advances in forensic technology, law enforcement has more tools and resources at its disposal, making it harder for criminals to get away with their actions," one criminal justice expert writes. "As a result, the demand for forensics technology has only increased over time."
Some of the latest, greatest advances in DNA and forensic testing include massively parallel sequencing (MPS), hair bacteria assessments, and time-tracing fingerprint technology that actually reveals when a fingerprint was left behind.
4. Advanced Threat Protection for Military Aircraft
While not necessarily crime-solving technology in the traditional sense, some of the nation’s leading national defense firms have developed next-generation threat management technology that defends American aircraft.
The Smart D2™ system is a great example. "[It] efficiently manages and deploys smart, expendable countermeasures — including multi-shot flares, active radio-frequency (RF) decoys, and kinetic interceptors — that are designed to protect aircraft and aircrews from existing and emerging threats," one provider explains.
Advanced threat warning systems like these prove invaluable in military combat situations where countermeasures are paramount in fighting international crime and successfully completing missions.
Putting It All Together
With more advanced crime-solving technology comes some friction. Many in the general public want to know how much surveillance is too much — citing worries about Big Brother-like advances that could soon spin out of control. But there’s no reason to believe that any of the technologies mentioned above cross the line.
Rather, it’s anticipated that they’ll actually make life safer for law-abiding citizens.
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer, and researcher. A graduate of Iowa State University, he's now a full-time freelance writer and business consultant.Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, and Forbes.com, among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he’s also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter (@LarryAlton3), at LinkedIn.com/in/larryalton, and on his website, LarryAlton.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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