GPS Forensics

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 from orbiting navigation satellites that can place someone at the scene of a crime. Or, they can prove 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.

How Does GPS Forensics Work?

Our GPS forensics experts work with industry-leading tools that support personal navigation devices, including GPS units from Garmin, TomTom, and Magellan. They also decode smartphone navigation apps popular with today’s users, including Google Maps, Waze, and Apple Maps. Geolocation experts can also recover GPS data from social media apps like Facebook, Snapchat, and Foursquare. Furthermore, they can extract GPS locations from photographs and videos snapped or recorded using the iPhone or Android smartphone’s onboard camera. Our leading, advanced GPS forensic tool recovers large quantities of deleted device locations from Android smartphones.

Carney Forensics can help you produce geolocation evidence relevant to your case from waypoints, routes, and favorite locations saved by users.  Our GPS location forensics experts 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, our expert witnesses can present your evidence visually and persuasively to the jury, judge, or opposing counsel in settlement talks.

Is GPS Forensics Superior to Cell Site Analysis?

Using cell phone business records provided by Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile to perform cell site analysis to show accurate user movement and track their locations is problematic for several reasons. The first is the tracking problems caused by electromagnetic interference in low-lying terrain, also obstructions of the signal caused by pine tree foliage outdoors or elevators indoors. Other reliability problems include cell tower failures, outages, and maintenance at the time of the incident. And accuracy problems go to urban versus rural cell tower density, and lack of cell tower propagation maps contemporaneous with the incident.

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 we let our license to the tool lapse. Why?  Because a far superior form of geolocation evidence exists. We recover it exclusively today using GPS forensics.

Our GPS forensic experts 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 prefer to go up against the FBI in federal court or the State Highway Patrol or the County Sheriff in local court, not on evidence based on cell site analysis of imprecise carrier business records, but rather armed with accurate, precise GPS locations with self-validating error rates obtained directly from low-earth orbiting navigation satellites.  That is best evidence.