Andro Vos

“The rule of law is the backbone of democracy. And if you’re living in a democracy, it’s vital to find out the truth,” says Andro Vos of the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI). At the TEDxHagueAcademySalon he’ll explain how forward-thinking forensics can contribute to a secure society.

As a Programme Director at one of the world’s leading forensic laboratories, Andro Vos led a pioneering programme on crime scene investigation, known as CSI The Hague. The project created a CSI Lab that brings together techniques ranging from augmented reality and serious gaming to thermal and spectral imaging and sensor and measurement technologies.

Going beyond the classic tools of criminal investigation, such as tracing finger prints or human hairs, the programme has developed techniques to digitise an entire crime scene. This allows investigators to go on analysing the scene months or years after the event, or carry out training at a genuine crime scene in virtual reality.

From state-of-the-art premises in The Hague, the NFI provides products and services to clients all over the world. The institute works closely with industry, knowledge institutes and universities, and invests heavily in research and development to lay the foundation for the innovative forensic methods of tomorrow.

Andro Vos came to the Netherlands from Suriname as a child. The most important lesson his childhood experiences taught him: “Dare to dream.” It’s a philosophy that led him to an early career in professional football. Dreams he went on to realise include not only the creation of the CSI Lab in The Hague, but also the foundation of the first forensic training institute in Africa. “If you don’t have a dream,” he says, “you don’t achieve anything.”


The Netherlands Forensic Institute website:

Andro previews his talk - see the video:

Andro Vos: new technologies at the crime scene

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Andro Vos: technology and truth


Andro Vos is a man who believes in following your dream – a valuable mindset if you specialise in innovation. On his watch as a programme director, the world-renowned Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) has pioneered new technologies for crime scene investigation using techniques ranging from virtual reality to heart rate monitoring.

“Classic and conservative,” is the way Vos describes the typical methods for investigating a crime scene. It’s pretty subjective, he says – investigators rely on their senses. There might be finger prints, and biological or chemical traces. And nowadays also digital evidence, such as the information on a cell phone.

At a crime scene you’ve only got one shot at collecting the evidence before it has been disturbed and contaminated, Andro Vos explains. This also makes it tricky for crime scene investigators to train on the job. There’s no room for learning by your mistakes. One false move and you could destroy valuable evidence forever. (Article continues below video)

The Power of Forensics: Andro Vos at TEDxHagueAcademySalon 

Virtual crime scene

So what if you could keep coming back to the scene of the crime months or even years later to reanalyse the details on the spot? And imagine if you could train at a real crime scene – complete with corpse, blood stains and murder weapon – without worrying that you might slip up and let a murderer go free.

That’s precisely what NFI has developed with its CSI The Hague project, says Vos. It’s now possible to digitise an entire crime scene and reproduce it in virtual reality.In the video Vos made to showcase the lab, we see an investigator with a head-mounted device that records the scene and flashes up augmented reality data. (“We came up with glasses like this before Google did,” Vos points out proudly.) The investigator uses a hand-held scanner to make a 3D image of the corpse. Thermal and spectral cameras pick up traces of blood and reveal how long they’ve been there.

Objective evidence

The project has also created a CSI Lab, which uses serious gaming techniques to train investigators. A scenario generator turns criminal statistics into realistic environments. The technology even measures trainees’ heart rates and records their every move. This provides valuable information for feedback and to learn more about the way investigators are likely to behave.

Vos sums up the results of his three-year CSI The Hague project: “I created a dream.” That dream is not just about inventing high-tech gadgets. It’s about uncovering objective evidence, and discovering the truth. Without the truth, says Vos, you have no justice, no democracy, and no secure society.