The Importance and Application of Footwear Intelligence

April 27, 2023

The use of footwear intelligence is often overlooked despite it being one of the easiest types ofevidence to find. Today criminals have become more aware of anti-detection measures, leading to a decline in the amount of fingerprints and DNA left atcrime scenes. Therefore, footwear intelligence has become increasingly valuable in solving crimes. 

In a series of 44 residential burglariesin Switzerland: 14 events (31%) yielded probative footwear impressions only(i.e., neither probative DNA nor fingerprints were collected from any of these events), six events (14%) yielded both a probative footwear impression and aprobative DNA profile, and no probative fingerprints were obtained from any ofthe 44 events.

Footwear identification does not currently hold the legal weight of court charges in many countries. However,this does not negate the value of footwear intelligence. Footwear intelligence has great potential in preventing cases and providing leads for unsolved crimes. Using big data analysis of shoe models, we can easily find correlations between cases and suspects, providing important direction in solving cases.

From 2015 to2017, the Neuchâteloise Police in Switzerland recovered 4,762 footwear impressions with the following intelligence success rates: 36% of the mgenerated scene-to-scene links and 8% of them generated suspect-to-scene links. So, 44% of the footwear data added to this Swiss system during that period had intelligence value and the remaining 56% holds the potential to provide leads as new cases are entered into the system.

The application of footwear intelligence goes beyond just footwear. Solving crimes using a single type of data has its limitations. To overcome this, combining shoeprints, fingerprints,and the context of the case is ideal. The real strength of a footwear system lies in its ability to integrate multiple sources of evidence, allowing for the full potential of data integration in solving crimes.

The shoe model database is a crucial component for shoe information to fully realize it’s potential. With the help of a shoe model database, officers areable to identify the type of shoe left at a crime scene and track down suspectsusing video footage. Currently, China is the only country in the world with acomprehensive shoe model database and a well-developed software. While the UKalso has a shoe model database, its dataset is limited and the application ofshoe model data is not fully integrated, therefore not fully realizing it’s potential.

Asscience and technology continue to advance, the use of footwear intelligence has also evolved. Footwear intelligence can now be integrated with video totrack suspects' movements. Further more, gait analysis can be performed by analyzing multiple continuous shoeprints using the basic physical characteristics of a single shoeprint. Footwear intelligence is just one aspect of the larger field of shoeprint analysis. In the future, shoeprints could have applications in many fields, such as health care and posture recognition. Let us embrace the continued development of science and technology and work together towards progress.