Article

In this article, digital forensic expert, Matt Peterson provides an introduction to the ways in which vehicle infotainment data can be applied to forensic investigations.

Vehicle Infotainment, Telematics & GPS Data in Forensic Investigations

Many of the new vehicles on the market today come equipped with sophisticated navigation, communication, and entertainment systems. These systems, in the process of performing their functions, monitor and record a tremendous amount of data that may be helpful toward investigating vehicle crash events and other incidents.

Robson Forensic experts who specialize in digital forensics are certified to acquire data contained within the infotainment and telematics systems often including, but not limited to:

  • Vehicle navigation information
  • Saved and favorite locations
  • Connected devices
  • Call logs
  • SMS messages
  • Contacts
  • Pictures and other media files
  • Event data with associated time and location:
    • Lights turning on/off
    • Door opening/closing
    • Gear shift to drive/reverse
    • Parking lights on/off

    From vehicle crashes to criminal acts of theft, vandalism, or stalking, the data stored within vehicle infotainment systems can frequently be used to substantiate or fill-in missing information relevant to an investigation.

    Example Data

    Figure 1 below shows a GPS track extracted from an OnStar unit that was installed on a GM vehicle. The unit recorded positions once per second, providing sufficient data to identify intersections at which the vehicle stopped and others in which it drove through without stopping.

    Figure1: GPS track extracted from an OnStar unit installed on a GM vehicle and displayed on Google Earth.
    Figure 1: GPS track extracted from an OnStar unit installed on a GM vehicle and displayed on Google Earth.

    Figures 2 through 4 below were all extracted from the same 2011 Ford Explorer. The MAC address of the Samsung phone in Figure 2 can help positively identify the specific phone attached to the vehicle. Figure 3 shows call logs made by the Samsung phone in Figure 2. Figure 4 is a selected portion of the over 1,000 events recorded on the Ford Explorer. Recorded events included doors opening/closing (Figure 4), gear shifts, parking lights on/off, phone connection/disconnections, and more. Each event is recorded with associated date and time. When available, each event also includes associated GPS position.

    Figure 2: Device (Samsung phone) attached to a Ford Explorer with unique identifier.
    Figure 2: Device (Samsung phone) attached to a Ford Explorer with unique identifier.
    Figure 3: Selected portion of call logs recorded in a Ford Explorer.
    Figure 3: Selected portion of call logs recorded in a Ford Explorer.
    Figure 4: Selected portion of door events recorded in a Ford Explorer.
    Figure 4: Selected portion of door events recorded in a Ford Explorer.

    GPS & Mobile Device Investigations

    The extraction and analysis of data from GPS units and other mobile electronic devices can provide valuable quantifiable data to assist in the resolution of disputes involving motor vehicles, bicycles, watercraft, and pedestrians. The experts at Robson Forensic have specialized training, education, and experience to extract data from a broad range of systems and devices and interpret that information within the context of a specific incident.

    Our expertise goes beyond acquiring and analyzing data from infotainment and telematics systems. Our extensive range of technical disciplines and specialty areas of practice extends into crash reconstruction, traffic signals and guidance, and driver actions including distracted driving.

    Contact digital forensic expert, Matt Peterson, to discuss your case and determine how Robson Forensic can assist with your investigation.

     

    Featured Expert

    Matthew J. Peterson, CFCE, CCME

    Matthew J. Peterson, CFCE, CCPA, CCLO
    Mobile Device Investigator & Digital Forensic Expert

    Matthew Peterson is a digital forensic expert and mobile device forensic investigator. He applies his expertise to forensic casework that requires the extraction and interpretation of information from electronic devices, including computers, cell phones, portable GPS devices, and built-in vehicle navigation and infotainment systems. Matthew has specialized expertise in the interpretation of missing or contradictory GPS data, which includes the ability to reconcile data gaps or instances where data from multiple devices conflict.