After the devastating flood that struck Emilia-Romagna and Marche, thousands of residences and automobiles bear the brunt of the overflow’s damage. Many municipalities, including Forlì and Ravenna, are advising citizens to document the incurred damages for future compensations. However, as of today, there is no official form available (despite false reports to the contrary). One of the most straightforward methods to authenticate these damages is by employing an application such as TrueScreen. This app enables the legal certification of the authenticity and truthfulness of multimedia content, such as photographs.
The founder of TrueScreen goes by the name of Fabio Ugolini and is a resident of Lugo, a town recently submerged by the waters. Affected by the flooding himself, he has opted to provide the application completely free of charge to his fellow citizens. “I’m not seeking publicity, and I won’t gain anything from this,” Ugolini is quick to point out. “However, these devastated places are part of my identity, and I felt compelled to take action. The sense of solidarity I am witnessing is remarkable, yet I’m apprehensive about the future, about the moment when the initial rush subsides and we have to tally the damages.”
Why Documenting the Damages is Important
The populations of Emilia-Romagna and Marche, affected by the flood, will be entitled to assistance, compensation, and reimbursements for the damages suffered. However, these aids are likely to arrive in a considerable amount of time. Therefore, it is crucial to immediately photographically document everything that the water has damaged or destroyed. This will provide a wealth of evidence when seeking compensations.
The practical advice given by the municipalities is quite straightforward: capture as much as possible through photographs. Take numerous pictures – both wide shots and detailed close-ups – of the damaged residences, houses, automobiles, and even items that need to be discarded. While doing so, it’s advisable to itemize everything, noting the type of property and its estimated value.
Why Use TrueScreen
Any content photographed using TrueScreen receives a legal certification of authenticity, immutability, and indisputability. The content is effectively adorned with a digital and timestamped signature guaranteed by major international certifying authorities. This verifies the context of the photo, its geolocation, technical attributes, and the exact date it was taken. In the end, it’s possible to download a technical-forensic report that can be presented in front of a court, public administration, or for insurance purposes.
In practice, as explained by Ugolini, “it reproduces a probative chain of custody: if an FBI agent wanted to store evidence of a crime, they would have to follow the same procedures that TrueScreen uses.” Moreover, “it’s impossible to import photos that were not taken at the moment: this prevents certifying false damages.” The application has already been successfully employed in Italian criminal and civil courts.
Typically, each photograph could cost up to four euros, but for the flood-affected populations, the service is both free and unlimited. It’s enough to download the application, register, and follow the provided instructions.
How to Document Damages with TrueScreen
TrueScreen can be downloaded on Android and iOS, and you can simply access it using a Google or Apple account. Once opened, just click on the banner that reads “Certify flood damages.”
At this point, “you’ll be asked for personal details, extent of damages, and photos of the incurred damages. Upon completion, an email will be requested to receive the certified report with probative and legal value, for use when requesting documentation of the damages.” The entire process has been explained by the company in a tutorial available on YouTube.
In the end, the indicated email address will receive a link allowing you to download a .zip file containing the forensic report, all original photos, the digital signature, and the timestamp. “With the information in the report, it’s not possible to dispute the information and photographs. We are accepted by insurance companies precisely because we are able to adhere to all internationally established guidelines. And we are the only ones doing so.”
“I hope to simplify and expedite the process of documenting damages,” says Ugolini, a few days after the flooding that also struck his own residence in Lugo. “Certainly, the initial fear is immense. Then you accept the fact that the water rises and enters your home. However, it’s difficult to face the deaths and the thousands of displaced families. The future worries me; I don’t know how the factories, the companies, and especially the farmers will manage. What I see is a completely transformed landscape, almost like a lunar scene. You wonder how it will be possible to rebuild, but I know we will manage. We are from Romagna.”