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Cost/Benefit Analysis Tools Helps Agencies Decide "2D" or "3D"

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2018
2 pages
This article reports on a project that developed an agency-specific tool that can determine whether a particular law enforcement agency would save money by purchasing a 3D crime-scene scanner compared to a 2D scanner.
Three-dimensional (3D) crime-scene scanning and virtual-reality review tools are available. For agencies wondering whether this technology investment would benefit them or be an expensive drain on limited funds, a tool is available to assist agencies in making this determination. The “Scanning for Crime Scene Investigation Cost/Benefit Analysis Tool” was developed through a project funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). This project involved a partnership between the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery Virtual Environments Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Dane County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO). The project compared several potential methods of capturing 3D crime-scene data and then provided a cost-benefit analysis report; however, the research team became aware of the difficulty of producing an analysis that had relevance to other U.S. law enforcement agencies. The team decided that the development of an online tool for a cost-benefit analysis applicable to any law enforcement agency was the answer. To use the tool, agencies enter costs for personnel and equipment, along with data on local homicides and traffic accidents, for which 3D scene-scanning is particularly economical. Homicides require detailed reconstruction and the opportunity to “revisit the scene” months later. Using 3D technology in accident reconstruction eliminates the need for time-consuming measurements and accompanying lengthy traffic obstruction. The tool also requires obtaining data on upfront costs, annual costs, specific savings, annual benefits, and comparisons between the costs and the benefits of purchasing and using 3D crime-scene scanning compared to 2D scanning. Online links to the tool and to the report on the DCSO project are provided in this article.
Date Published: September 1, 2018