The number of forensics apps available for mobile phones appears to be growing with many current technologies focusing on document and evidence collection. These apps may be useful when an officer is pulling someone over, determining the particular load that a tanker may be carrying (is the load toxic, for example?), or noting the names and contact information for people involved with or witnessing a crime.
When compiling this list of 15 cool mobile apps for forensics, we had the goal in mind of providing a list of apps that would be useful and helpful on the job. What we discovered in our research was that police departments and agencies seem to be trending toward adoption of entire software and mobile platform systems to allow for better documentation, communication and evidence collection. Some agencies are even making use of apps, such as iSpotACrime and My Police Department App, to allow citizens to have a hand in crime reporting.
1. Pocket CSI, available through the Law Enforcement and Training Group, is a suite of applications available to help first responders to a crime scene. The app features audio officer notes, a caliper, and field contact report. A skid mark calculator, pictorial blood spatter trajectory calculator and a pictorial digital dimension calculator are also included. To help with evidence documentation are a field contact audio recorder, pre-scaled and scaled photos sets, and pre-scaled and scaled video. Available for Android, Blackberry and iPhone. Cost: $99.99
2. Police Partner, by ClickZ Designs, allows officers to put their field notes into a smart phone rather than into a handheld notebook. Notation fields are available for case numbers and other fields can contain details about suspects and witnesses vehicles. These notes can later be e-mailed to an officer for inclusion in a report. Available for Android. Cost: $1.99
3. MEA Forensics, by MEA Forensic Engineers & Scientists, LTD, walks investigators through the important questions to ask on the case and the evidence they might want to preserve. It provides the step-by-step guidance that may be needed for collision reconstruction, accidents and personal injury cases. Available for Android and iPhone. Free.
4. Clinical and Forensics, by Sigma-Aldrich, a life sciences technology company, provides up-to-date information on analytical tools for forensic testing and guidance for sample handling. It also provides information and references to research new advances in the field. Made for iPhone. Free.
5. Field Contact, by QBlueprint LLC, provides a way to document, store and send information from the field. It features text fields for physical descriptions, where tattoos and scars can be described, types of vehicle or vehicles, and stop locations. Photos can be added and enlarged in this app and contact information about any stop sent to another officer using Field Contact or to any e-mail address. An advanced search option allows for recall of stored information in the user’s database. A password is required for use. Made for iPhone. Cost: $4.99.
6. Ballistic Energy Calc uses the muzzle energy and Taylor KO factor to calculate the mass, velocity and diameter of a projectile. The muzzle energy is determined using the firearm industry’s standard formula and momentum is also ascertained through a standard formula. This app can allow those working in the field to determine the ballistic energy of a projectile. The app was created by a George Yauneridge and his website can be visited for more information. Available for Android. Free.
7. CSI Connect is available through Prime Forensics to help officers with crime scene investigation, evidence collection and processing. An ‘Ask the Crime Scene Experts’ enables officers to ask questions about various topics they might encounter in the field. More than 70 crime scene reference guides are available on subjects as varied as blood enhancement, latent prints, firearms-tools marks, personal/property crime and sketching. GPS coordinates and addresses can be saved, as can details about weather. Other features include crime scene notes that can be recorded, played or exported; a trajectory calculator; and the option to use the cell phone as a flashlight. Available for Android and iPhone. Cost: $6.99.
8. Photosynth, by Microsoft, allows a panoramic view of any scene to be captured. While made for any type of user, this app can be functional for first responders and crime scene investigators wanting to document a view of a crime scene and save visual evidence for later investigation and use. In fact, police departments around the country have experimented with this app including the Astoria Police Department in Oregon. Available for iPhone and iPad. Cost: Free.
9. iCrime Fighter, by At-Scene, lends itself to officers and detectives in the field looking for help with case management and evidence collection. Audio statements, evidence details, photos and videos can quickly be collected at a scene through this mobile app. Details are encrypted and can be uploaded to the cloud for access through the website icrimefighter.com, which requires an e-mail and password. The platform is adoptable through police agencies with the Pine County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota recently integrating the iCrime Fighter platform. Available for iPhone and iPad. Cost: Free.
10. Vehicle Identification System, offered by Ten 8 industries, provides a quick reference guide for officers on patrol or for security officers and others who are trying to gain vehicle description information from witnesses. The app can be opened up to view images of nearly every make and model vehicle available in the last decade. It can also be used by officers who are asked by dispatch to be on the lookout for a specific type of vehicle, but are not clear what that vehicle may look like. Made for iPad. Cost: $1.99.
11. Police Notebook, through Appiphany Technologies Corp, can be useful to agents and officers who need to record details while on assignment or patrol. Each new entry is marked with the day, using military time for tracking and notes. Information regarding the location, the offense, and the names and addresses of those involved can be recorded as well as the action taken by the officer. Incorrect entries can be struck out and replaced with correct information, with an officer’s initials entered near the change. This app can be helpful for officers to refresh details before court hearings and testimony. Available for iPhone and iPad. Cost: $2.99
12. Forensic Science may interest police officers, investigators and others wanting to learn more about the forensic science field. The app features learning videos, practice exams, virtual exams and an exam history. It was developed by Jason Stafford, who has created an extensive number of other apps, according to SensorTower. Available for the iPhone and iPad. Cost: $1.99.
13. Google Translate allows sentences and questions to be typed or spoken into this application and converted into other tongues such as Arabic, English, French, German, Macedonian, Russian, Spanish and many others, for a total number of translatable languages totaling about 80. The converted language can be shown to the person or played audibly. This app may be useful to officers who have pulled over a suspect or who are interviewing witnesses who speak another language and can provide details about a crime or crime scene. Available for Android, iPhone and iPad. Free.
14. DUI Warning and Test Instructions provides the Implied Consent Warning Card and instructions for the Unified Field Sobriety Test for officers in the field. It provides details for refusal to submit to tests in each state and the results that can occur including potential revocation of a license. This app offers an .08 blood level chart, which allows individuals to see how alcohol can affect their blood level and its effects on a per hour, per drink basis. Available for iPhone and iPad. Cost: $.99.
15. Cargo Decoder allows an officer responding to a scene to determine what types of load a tanker, truck or semi might be carrying. The four-digit DOT code can be entered from the vehicle’s DOT placard to show what types of materials are under transport. A voice search allows for even faster results. Materials information can be also be found even when a cell network is down or not available. Made for Android. Cost: Free.
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