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Lumi Drug Scan passes major milestone

23 July 2021

Lumi™ Drug Scan

An evaluation of the pilot Lumi Drug Scan service jointly developed by ESR and New Zealand Police has found the majority of frontline officers who used Lumi have 'high confidence' in the service.

Lumi combines powerful machine learning drug detection models and a mobile app that is synced wirelessly with a handheld device to detect if substances are cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy), or methamphetamine (P), displaying results on the law enforcement officer's connected work phone within seconds. Behind the scenes Lumi draws on ESR's forensic chemistry expertise and vast reference library of drug data. The Lumi pilot kicked off in Counties Manukau, Waitematā and Central Police Districts in July 2020, later expanding to cover Canterbury and Auckland. The pilot ended on 24 January 2021.

Forensic Research & Development Project Manager Dion Sheppard says the Evaluation Report highlights the unique opportunity Lumi has presented for frontline police and ESR scientists to collaborate.

"Our partnership with Police means Lumi is intuitive and meets the needs of the frontline officers who use the service. Through our co-design approach we were able to develop a unique service that combines forensic science expertise, frontline knowledge and cutting-edge technology into a solution that works in the real-world."

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 Lumi's capability to scan through plastic.

"Lumi has proven very popular with Police staff. It allows officers to test drugs through plastic, eliminating the need to open packets with suspected drugs inside," says Assistant Commissioner O'Brien.

"It also allows officers to consider the best way to resolve the incident and ensure the person in possession of the drug is considered for a health-based resolution."

One Police officer in the pilot said, "we will always have to go to ESR for court and evidential purposes, but Lumi as a drug screening tool it's fantastic."

At over 95 per cent accuracy, Mr Sheppard says Lumi is very effective.

"It's part of the suite of tools, techniques and processes ESR scientists have refined over many years that complement one another, which mean when police find larger quantities of suspected drugs they can send the substance to ESR's forensic chemistry laboratories for comprehensive evidential analysis.

"A huge thanks as well to everyone who's been involved with Lumi to date," says Mr Sheppard.

Read the New Zealand Police media release here.