3D Printers Aid Hong Kong Police in Studying and Explaining Crime Scenes

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[Photo: Jonathan Wong via South China Morning Post]

Hong Kong is one of the most famous areas around China, something that is quite an accomplishment given that it competes with 160 other of China’s cities for notice. With a population of just over 7 million, the autonomous territory is only the ninth largest city in the country, but still packs quite a bit into its geographically constrained boundaries. Hong Kong is one of the world’s most significant financial centers as well as having one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and holds the record for the world’s longest life expectancy. To further bolster Hong Kong’s reputation, since 2011 it has regularly held the record for the lowest murder rate in the world.

This doesn’t mean that the Hong Kong police are willing to sit back and just let things slide. Instead, they believe that at least part of that low crime rate is due to the quality of their police work and are continually stepping up their game by integrating helpful technology into their daily workflow. Specifically, they are now folding in two 3D printers purchased for their Police Briefing Support Unit in order to help construct models necessary both to understand for themselves what took place at a particular crime scene and to be able to explain to others, such as judges and juries, the circumstances of the crime.

USA, New York State, New York City, Crime scene barrier tape

USA, New York State, New York City, Crime scene barrier tape

Court inquests have seen models built by this unit since it was first created in 1988, and those miniature recreations have helped to explain things that have caused fatalities such as a hot air balloon crash, a street fire, a shooting, and a hostage situation. But models are not quickly produced and a quality one cannot be rushed. Now, however, with the introduction of two 3D printers, the process can actually be sped up a bit. The idea is not that these printers would take the place of the human handiwork, but that they would be aids in creating things that are normally time consuming and repeatable, hongkongpolicelogosuch as window frames or doors. As Senior Inspector Chan Shun-wai explained:

“We need printers to construct complex structures to show the accuracy of the architecture. The finished product made by the printer is simply a piece of plastic. How are we going to make the stall’s roof look like a real iron sheet? It still needs our handiwork to refine it.”

In addition to using the models to examine crimes that have already taken place or explain those crimes to others, the Briefing Support Unit also creates scale models that help to plan terrorism prevention operations as part of their counterterrorism activities. The use of 3D technologies in detective work and crime prevention is not new to the world of policing, having been integrated at a variety of levels in places around the world. In each case, it demonstrates not that 3D tech will one day replace our need for police officers, but the ways in which the technology can assist. In this case, the two 3D printers, while not wearing uniforms, are like adding two more members to the police force, removing the repetitive work from human officers and giving them time to focus on those aspects that simply can’t be recreated without the human touch. Discuss in the Hong Kong forum at 3DPB.com.

[Source: South China Morning Post]

 

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