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SmartInsects – Smartphone & Forensic Entomology. An easy App for crime scene investigation

Magni, P.A., Dadour, I. and Glance, D. (2013) SmartInsects – Smartphone & Forensic Entomology. An easy App for crime scene investigation. In: 10th Meeting European Association for Forensic Entomology, 10 - 13 April 2013, Coimbra, Portugal


The identification of insects associated with a corpse and their specific insect biology in the context of a crime scene is used to provide the best estimation of the minimum post mortem interval. In many cases when insect material is observed at homicides, suspicious deaths and suicides then the medical examiner, coroner, pathologist or trained forensic field officer will call an entomologist. In some cases, although not ideal, any one of these attending persons may do the collections on behalf of an entomologist. Crime scene protocols suggest that all care must be taken in the collection of entomological evidence and this should be gathered only by individuals that have knowledge and experience and/or accreditation as a practitioner in this activity. Unfortunately, in many countries just a small number of personnel, both pathologist and law enforcement are well trained in collection and preservation of insect material on the crime scene. Moreover, only a small number of forensic teams have forensic entomology information sheets and tools in their crime scene kits. It is for these reasons that we have made this information available via a smartphone application (app). Smartphone adoption is now widespread in both the consumer and professional spheres. A simple survey made by the authors has shown that a high percentage of Italian and Australian forensic officers own a smartphone. At present, despite there being a considerable number of smartphone applications focused on general entomology and general forensics (e.g. crime scene marker, time of death, anthropology-anthropometry), no app dedicated to forensic entomology is available. SmartInsects is divided in sections such as: general concepts, insect pictures, guidelines for sampling and storage of insect material and collection of environmental data. Moreover, useful references and contacts are provided. This app is purely designed to guide the crime scene technician or proxy for collecting and preserving entomological samples. App updates with translation into different languages will be become available after further input from the forensic entomology community.

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