Queensland Police to use CSIRO's Zebedee to map crime scenes

A CSIRO technology that was initially designed to map caves and mines will now be used by the Queensland Police as a part of forensic investigations.

The time it takes the Queensland Police to complete a forensic scan of a crime scene is about to be reduced to only 20 minutes by using a Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)-developed scanning technology called Zebedee.

Also known as ZEB1, the Zebedee Scanner is a handheld laser tool designed to capture location information. This information can then be used to re-create the crime scene as a computerised 3D map.

CSIRO computational informatics Dr Jonathan Roberts said the latest version of Zebedee contains a video camera to provide imagery on top of the 3D laser information.

"The 3D data visualisations that Zebedee creates provide a wealth of spatial information quickly and easily. It's just a walk in the park," he said.

CSIRO also said that given the compact nature of the scanner, police will be able to use it to access hard-to-reach places and map-confined spaces where it may be difficult to set up camera equipment and tripods, while allowing for fewer disturbances to the crime scene.

While Zebedee was originally designed to be used for cave and mine mapping, Queensland Police commissioner Ian Stewart said it will be the first time in the world where the technology will be used in law enforcement.

"The benefits of this new technology will reduce interference at a scene, save time, and allow access to previously hard-to-reach areas such as steep declines and bushland," Roberts said.

"This cutting-edge technology is allowing us to adapt to a new environment of ongoing change and improvement."

According to Queensland Police, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Jack Dempsey, the Zebedee scanner will primarily be used by Forensic Services to map crime scenes, but it has potential to be used by the Forensic Crash Unit.

The CSIRO also believes there is potential to use the Zedebee technology for other applications, including security, emergency services, and classroom learning.

Queensland Science, Information Technology, Innovation and Arts Minister Ian Walker said he visited CSIRO's Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies last year, where the Zebedee Scanner was developed.

"Zebedee demonstrates how research and technology moves from the lab into commercialisation, with real and positive benefits for Queenslanders," he said.