Aerial video of a failure or accident site taken from a drone is one of the lowest cost, lowest technology tasks ever in forensic investigation. And one of the best ways of getting and presenting evidence. Like $285 for 34:41 minutes of video on one of my recent investigations.
And if you like, yours could be taken with a GoPro camera, like those on an Alpine skier’s helmet, borne aloft on a Walmart drone. I’ve seen GoPro-Walmart quality video of a P.E.I. beach scene taken by a hobbyist and it was good.
My aerial video is taken by a photographer who does contract work for CBC (recently on assignment getting Canadian 150 year birthday video) with multi-thousand dollar equipment, for the Walmart charge-out fee, and his footage of my forensic sites is excellent.
It’s also a feel-good task as well as low cost, simple technology. You’re seeing the site in a different and revealing way. You know you’re getting lots of valuable data captured on 1,000s of frames for study of any one or more later. You can even measure features on these frames by placing large ”rulers” on the ground in different positions before your flight - simple “ground control” in land surveying jargon.
I was prompted to mention this when a reader remarked that he didn’t think his forensic investigation needed high tech aerial video of an accident site. (It doesn’t, based on his description of the site, but this kind of technology came out in a remark of mine about different engineering methods)
He could be excused for thinking like that, particularly in light of the recent, front page Globe and Mail coverage of the new, much-needed DOT regulations governing recreational drone flights. The regulations are strict and penalties severe if you don’t abide.
They are needed when you learn how quickly you can climb hundreds of feet – and into a plane’s flight path. Or zip around a multi-story building – and into a closed window. In fact, think stings-like-a-bumblebee because that’s the speed and faint background sound you get as you videotape a failure or accident site. My professional photographer abides of course. We have been for a couple of years since he started taking low cost aerial video of my forensic sites.
The take-away from this is the valuable data you get with low cost, low tech aerial video – and feeling good and having fun while you’re getting it. The photographer flies the drone while you direct the video coverage from the “co-pilot’s seat”, a flight monitor on a tripod nearby. This technology is certainly not applicable to all investigations as my reader noted but valuable when it is - and an impressive way of presenting evidence to the judicial system.
(Hello: Read some of the blogs below, for sure, #5, to get a feel for the valuable expert data possible with a low cost aerial video of your site)
- “Crewing” on a forensic drone flight. Posted October 4, 2016
- U.S. civil litigation lawyer on using air photos in environmental litigation. Posted November 18, 2015
- Fixed wing drones – another tool in forensic engineering investigation. Posted November 4, 2015
- New forensic aerial photographic method proving extremely valuable. Posted January 30, 2015
- A picture’s worth a 1000 words, possibly many 1000s in forensic engineering with a new aerial photographic technique. Posted January 15, 2014 (See frames from a demonstration drone flight in this posting)