GPS Forensics

What is GPS Forensics?

Many people wear personal navigation devices like fitness trackers or digital watches while running, bicycling, or driving their car. These devices hold important geolocation information received from orbiting navigation satellites that can place someone at the scene of a crime. Or, they can prove up an alibi, or show critical details of a motor vehicle accident or distracted driving case. This accurate geolocation evidence is complete with latitude, longitude, elevation, and often speed or velocity. The evidence also includes critical metadata like date and time stamps and accuracy measurements that go to reliability. Together it paints a clear picture of the user’s whereabouts. And more important, GPS Forensics can solve an investigation and close the case.

Is GPS Forensics Superior to Cell Site Analysis?

Using cell phone business records provided by Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile and cell site analysis of them to show accurate locations are problematic for several reasons. They include electromagnetic interference like low-lying terrain, or pine trees, or elevators. They also include cell tower failures and maintenance, urban versus rural cell tower density, lack of cell tower propagation maps contemporaneous with the event, and many more.

Many in our industry refer to cell site analysis as junk science.  We practiced it in the past with an advanced tool developed by former law enforcement officers based on accurate cell tower propagation maps, but let our license to the tool lapse. Why?  Because a far superior form of geolocation evidence exists, and we recover it exclusively today.  We rely upon cell phone forensics to recover accurate, precise geolocation evidence from GPS navigation satellites received by and stored in iPhones and Android smartphones. We would prefer to go up against the FBI in federal court or the state highway patrol or the county sheriff in local court, not on cell site analysis of imprecise carrier business records, but rather armed with accurate, precise GPS geolocations with self-validating error rates obtained directly from orbiting navigation satellites.  That is best evidence.

How Does Geolocation Forensics Work?

Our GPS forensic tools support personal navigation devices, including GPS units from Garmin, TomTom, and Magellan. They also decode smartphone navigation apps popular with folks today, including Google Maps, Waze, and Apple Maps. They can also recover GPS data from social media apps like Facebook and Foursquare and from photographs and video recorded from the smartphone’s camera.

Carney Forensics can help you produce geolocation evidence relevant to your case from waypoints, routes, and favorite locations saved by users.  We also recover track points and logs recorded by personal navigation and GPS devices on the move. We organize all that accurate geolocation evidence and produce it using Google Maps, Google Earth, and mapping software from Microsoft and Garmin. Why? So you can present your evidence visually and persuasively to your jury, judge, or opposing counsel.