ESR welcomes the announcement that new technology allowing front-line police officers to rapidly identify illicit drugs using their mobile phone is to be rolled out across all police districts around New Zealand.
The Lumi™ Drug Scan service, which was co designed by ESR and New Zealand Police, means frontline officers can reliably get an indication as to whether an item contains methamphetamine (P), cocaine, or MDMA (ecstasy).
Using Lumi™ is as straightforward as placing a suspected illicit drug item on the handheld device, which pairs via Bluetooth to the Lumi™ App on the officer’s mobile phone. Results are generated within seconds and displayed within the Lumi™ app.
Access to the real-time results generated by Lumi™ supports frontline staff to make evidence-informed decisions when dealing with suspected illicit drugs.
Lumi™ Drug Scan is the result of a unique partnership between New Zealand Police and ESR, centred around co-design methodology. “What makes Lumi™ different is that it was designed by frontline police staff working with frontline forensic experts here in New Zealand. This partnership is unique, and means Lumi™ has simplicity and reliability in its DNA. Thanks again to all Police and ESR staff who have made this project a reality,” says ESR Forensic Research and Development Manager Dion Sheppard.
Today’s announcement of the national rollout follows an initial pilot programme that saw frontline officers in Auckland, Manawatū, and Canterbury trialling the service in 2020. When the pilot concluded in January 2021, an exhaustive evaluation phase followed, capturing insights from those officers who had used Lumi™ during the trial. Feedback from frontline staff indicated they had ‘high confidence’ in Lumi™, and the ESR team behind Lumi™ has taken this feedback into account to refine further.
Dion says Lumi™’s speed and sensitivity has applications beyond frontline law enforcement, where real-time results can support decision making for others including frontline medical settings. At its core, Lumi™ has been developed to enhance the safety of the public as well as officers on the frontline, achieved though the rapidness of Lumi™’s results as well as its capability to scan through plastic.
Behind the scenes, Lumi™ harnesses unique algorithms that are trained to ‘recognise’ features of interest from infrared signature in drugs. These algorithms have been developed by ESR’s data scientists from an extensive library of data that comprises over 500,000 scans of illicit drugs, analysed in ESR’s forensic laboratories.
“At over 95 per cent accuracy at the forensic testing level, Lumi™ is very effective. It’s part of the suite of complementary tools and techniques that ESR’s scientists have refined, which mean when police find larger quantities of suspected drugs, they can send the substance to ESR’s forensic chemistry laboratory for comprehensive evidential analysis,” says Dion.
The insights and data obtained from each sample scanned by frontline staff is also captured in one of the key distinguishing features of Lumi™ Drug Scan – the Lumi™ Analytics Dashboard. This gives unprecedented and near-real time information to law enforcement leaders about drug use at macro and local levels, helping ensure resources can be directed to where they are needed.
Further development of the Lumi™ Drug Scan service is underway to increase the detection capabilities of Lumi™ to include other controlled substances, ensuring it can continue to respond to the frontline needs of police.
Notes to editors