Plex.Earth in the hands of an expert witness

Plex.Earth is used by thousands of engineers around the world but it can also facilitate the work of various other professionals. In this case, it found its way in the court of law!

Dan Toneck has his own small company working as an expert witness. Attorneys and car insurance companies hire him to investigate auto traffic collisions, figure out what happened and sometimes produce a computer animation of his findings. If the attorneys from both sides can't agree on who should get paid, or how much, there is a court trial and he is called to testify before the jury.

Dan was a San Diego Police Officer for 15 years, retiring in 2005 due to a 1998 line of duty injury. It was back on August 13th, 1998 when he was investigating a serious injury traffic collision. There were other police officers closing the street so he could walk around and investigate.

A drunk woman drove through the road closure and him, cutting off his leg. The doctors gave him a metal leg and he went back to work, even more determined,  looking for a better, safer way to document roadway traffic collisions. Dan researched and implemented the use of Total Station surveying systems, which gave him the title of the San Diego Police Department’s first Collision Reconstruction Technician.

Finally, in 2005 he medically retired but he didn't stop doing what he loves. Instead,  he formed his own private company working as a traffic collision expert.

Dan is a two-time San Diego Police Officer of the Year, receiving citations from the United States Congress and California State Legislature for Excellence, Dedication and Valor.

Back to the old days

Dan has been using satellite imagery for many, many years.  In the past, during very special events, as a police officer, he would have federal agents acquire imagery for him through the military. That was the time when we used modems to dial up connections and before there was really any good internet access.  He would receive giant 1-meter paper photographs and have to sit down with scissors and cut up the photos, scan them on a flatbed scanner, then piece the scans back together in Photoshop before he could import the image into a CAD program and overlay vector linework. And although the process of obtaining imagery has now become much easier, putting it together in order to work on it is still an issue.

Getting high-quality designs at a fraction of the time with Plex.Earth

Last year Dan investigated a crash where a woman drove off the roadway into some dirt and bushes.  Her car rolled over several times, dropped off of a cliff and she was seriously injured.  She was initiating a lawsuit to recover money to pay for her injuries and Dan was hired to investigate the collision. A tight budget meant that premium satellite imagery from private satellite companies was not an option, which left him with the free imagery available from NASA and the USGS, that was outdated. Checking Google Earth, he saw the imagery date for the location of the accident was two or three months AFTER the accident and he could still see the tire marks her car created while plowing through the weeds and dirt on the side of the road.  Instead of having to screen capture and tile in Photoshop, which would have taken him all night to assemble, scale and insert the photo into AutoCAD, he used Plex.Earth and had the photo ready to draw on in under 1-hour!

Planning ahead with Plex.Earth

In another occasion, Dan was hired by an insurance company to travel up the California coast and produce scaled diagrams of the location of a traffic collision where someone had been killed.  He would be surveying the area with a total station surveying instrument.  Before he went, he took a look at the location with Google Street View and used Plex.Earth to import the area he would be investigating into AutoCAD.  He used the imagery to plan ahead for his total station surveying process. After returning he used the total station data in combination with the Plex.Earth imagery to produce scaled diagrams. All of the survey data matched up very close with the Plex.Earth imagery.

In a nutshell, Plex.Earth saves Dan a lot of time as it automates all the busy work he previously had to perform himself and he has used it extensively the last few years. You can visit his site to find more about him and his work.

You can also read our blog post “Can you really touch, feel and smell software” telling the story of  Aristides Loukrezis who used  Plex.Earth and reduced the time he spent in building a 3D printed architectural model, from a week down to a single day!

Not yet convinced? Try Plex.Earth for free today and drop us a line for any query or feedback at!