3D scans of cartridge casings and expended bullets offer significant correlation and accuracy advantages. While responsible for solving thousands of firearms crimes in the past, 2D forensic ballistics systems are clearly behind the technology curve.
Booming business for gun manufacturers means increasing demand for forensic ballistics expertise. Firearms industry revenues have shot up an average of 6.9% annually since 2005, including a robust 8.9% jump in 2009, according to a June 2010, article in the Chicago Tribune.
Meanwhile, Fox News said the FBI conducted 6.1 million background checks for gun purchasers from January to May of 2009, an increase of 25.6% from the same period the year before. The bigger the pool of firearms, the more cartridges or bullets an automated ballistics analysis system needs to search through to find a match.
Yet, even as law enforcement organizations face an escalating requirement to accurately match cartridge cases or bullets with firearms, they are hampered by outdated two-dimensional (2D) ballistics analysis technology.
2D Data Accuracy and Correlation Less Reliable
Ballistic Imaging, published by the National Academies Press in 2008, assessed the state of computer-based imaging technology in forensic firearms identification, and its authors noted the lack of fine-tuned accuracy with existing cartridge correlation technology.
They stated that a system based on two-dimensional grayscale images “is less reliable for distinguishing extremely fine individual marks that would be necessary to make successful matches in RBIDs in which large numbers of exhibits on file would share gross class and subclass characteristics.”