Serious Crash Unit delivers faster turnarounds and increased efficiency thanks to Sokkia GNSS

New Sokkia GNSS technology is helping New Zealand Police’s Serious Crash Units (SCUs) survey crash scenes and get traffic flowing again faster. Having upgraded from theodolites, users report up to 50% time savings thanks to the new systems.

Staff in Wellington, Canterbury, Central, Eastern, Bay of Plenty and Waikato districts are using Sokkia GRX GPS units which are credited with nearly halving the time roads need to be closed for mapping a crash scene.

Training was delivered to staff in the Tāmaki Makaurau districts with a view to introducing them there. The remaining districts will have the systems rolled out in due course.

Police worked with road safety partner NZTA in developing the new approach – and together we look forward to seeing the benefits to road users, says the Senior Sergeant in charge of coordinating crash investigations.

“This technology enhances the ability of Serious Crash Analysts to gather and present the best evidence available,” said the spokesperson.

“It has the added benefits of substantially reducing the time required to accurately survey a scene to a high evidential standard, which means resources can be freed up from crash scenes sooner and road users won’t experience the same delays.”

Sokkia GNSS 50% faster than older theodolite technology

The units operate on the cellphone network and are connected to an operator’s tablet via Bluetooth. Data can be overlaid on a Google map or satellite image of the scene, and downloaded from the tablet to create a 3D map.

Units are mounted on a telescopic pole, meaning there is less gear to carry than with a theodolite and tripods. They also take far less time to start and activate and can operate better in bad weather.

While the current theodolite units require a clear line of sight for laser-enabled surveying – meaning a passing truck can interrupt the process – the new Sokkia GNSS units, taking positional information from satellites overhead, do not.

The units can make the difference between a road being fully or only partially closed, and can greatly reduce the length of closures – by an estimated 50 percent in one crash in the Bay of Plenty.

Saving hours of field work and increasing safety

Those in charge of coordinating the training materials and rollout of the technology commented that the Sokkia GNSS has revolutionised the team’s processess.  As  Sokkia GNSS can be operated by one person and there is less equipment to carry and setup, it enables faster and safer operation.

The new Sokkia GNSS technology was used at a crash scene on the Aotea Flyover, on SH1 in Wellington, which required mapping both the roadway and debris on the railyard 15 metres below.

The new GPS setup potentially saved hours of work, both at the scene and at base where the Sergeant in charge of the investigation was able to download a 3D map of the complex scene.

Efficient field to office workflow with Sokkia GNSS

Other feedback from users in the field include the ease of use and simplicity of the workflow, particularly when back at the station with no extra work to do on the captured data.

Normally the Sokkia GRX units operate in pairs, with a base unit and a rover unit, but Police’s eight units have been reconfigured – with supplier Position Partners – to work independently, using a fixed receiver in the vicinity as a base unit.

A spokesperson from New Zealand Police said that the Sokkia GNSS units are supplementing, rather than replacing, Police’s existing robotic surveying equipment.

“The intent of the National Road Policing Centre is to ensure SCUs are using the most up-to-date equipment possible and take advantage of the increasing cellular coverage across our State Highway network, enabling them to work more efficiently and effectively,” the spokesperson commented.

“There are real benefits for our people on the road and for the general public as well from use of the new equipment.”

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