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Guidelines for the Use of Terrestrial LiDAR Scanners in Criminal Justice

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2022
44 pages

These guidelines for the use of terrestrial LiDAR scanners (TLS) in criminal justice applications were developed by the Terrestrial LiDAR Scanning Working Group, whose goal was to create consensus-based best practices in standardizing and improving the use and application of TLS in scene documentation and reconstruction.


Following these guidelines will improve practitioners’ ability to promote uniform implementation and use of TLS technology in practice and ultimately improve the practitioners’ ability to attain scientifically supportable conclusions from TLS data; ensure effective quality management procedures; and improve presentation of this information to stakeholders, including law enforcement investigators and the courts. After presenting definitions of terms used in the guidelines, this report profiles TLS technology and the types of instruments covered in the guidelines. Light detection and ranging, or LiDAR is defined as a “remote sensing technology that enables accurate and precise measurement of the distance of objects at a scene." Appropriately trained users may leverage TLS data to document or reconstruct scenes. The report then provides an overview of TLS instrument calibration considerations, followed by an overview of TLS equipment validation considerations. The guidelines’ next section addresses the various functional practice levels of personnel when capturing and using TLS data,  the recommended minimum educational and training requirements for each level of functional practice, and recommendations for training content and proficiency-testing materials. Other major sections of the guidelines focus on TLS data capture, data processing, data management,  and disclosure of data. Appendices contain a comparison of laser scanner device types, a suggested equipment list, a measurement accuracy and resolution guide, and literature recommendations for critical measurements across TLS applications. References and a list of resources