Global positioning devices are now as common as cell phones. Nearly everyone has one, whether they know it or not, whether they use it or not. Providing information regarding location, direction, route and time, these devices have become a useful, reliable part of daily life; however, what many do not know is how these devices can record and store data describing the details of that daily life.
Law enforcement and other forensic investigators are increasingly utilizing GPS data to investigate and analyze people’s movements and destinations to uncover potentially important facts.
Often referred to as “pattern of life” information, this GPS data enables investigators to evaluate the veracity of a subject’s statements or testimony by identifying their location at a specific time. For example, in a recent case, investigators utilized GPS data in a suspicious two-vehicle, head-on collision. The surviving commercial vehicle operator reported that the oncoming vehicle appeared to cross deliberately into his lane. Data from the deceased operator’s GPS device provided extensive details of his travel patterns that led investigators to identify possible suicidal motivation and ultimately to conclude that the accident was no accident.