Crime Analytics: An Essential Skill for Intelligent Crime Fighting

November 26, 2019 Krista Amolins

What do fraud investigation, forensic data analysis, corporate security, and law enforcement have in common? They are all potential career paths for someone with skills in crime analysis. Several post-secondary programs in Ontario give students the knowledge and experience to use location technology in a range of fields in justice, safety, and security.

A quick scan of the Toronto Police Service Data Catalogue gives a hint of the types of data that can be collected, mapped and analyzed in the interests of public safety: different categories of crime, traffic collisions and calls for service are all tracked and reported. In response to the growing use of geospatial information by police forces and emergency services, higher education institutions have been increasingly incorporating GIS into their programs, including the Community Safety programs at Georgian College. They have also been introducing entirely new programs focused on crime analytics.

This fall, The Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University launched the Certificate in Crime Analytics program to provide students with both theoretical knowledge and practical experience in crime analysis. As a continuing education program, courses are offered either online or in the evening, making it accessible to professionals who want to develop new skills.

Another new 2019 addition to crime analysis education is a course that is part of the Protection, Security and Investigation (PSI) Diploma program at Humber College. The PSI program prepares students for careers in traditional law enforcement (e.g., policing, border services, corrections); civilian law enforcement (e.g., intelligence and crime analysis); and private and corporate security (e.g., private investigations, risk analysis, fraud and workplace safety investigations). Students have the opportunity to job shadow security professionals in private and corporate security during their final semester. The exercises they complete in their crime analysis course are based on activities in GIS Tutorial for Crime Analysis, by Esri Press.

Students in the PSI program complete an exercise using crime data to discover how spatial analysis can reveal patterns that may not be visible to the human eye.​ 

Cambrian College’s Crime Analytics Graduate Certificate program is slightly older, as it is now in its second year. Students do need to have completed a diploma, advanced diploma or degree before enrolling, but come from a variety of backgrounds. As the program coordinator, Sidney Shapiro, explains, “the Crime Analytics program is unique in that we focus on computer science, statistics, and communication, in addition to data analysis.” During the first two semesters, students learn to program in Python, SQL and R and how to use ArcGIS and other software packages to perform data analysis. Perhaps more importantly, they also learn how to effectively communicate analytical information. In the final semester, they apply the skills they have learned to a capstone project.

For those looking to gain even more in-depth knowledge and skills, Seneca College offers a program that is the first of its kind at an Ontario post-secondary institution: the Honours Bachelor of Crime and Intelligence degree program. The four-year program “prepares students to investigate criminal behaviour, motivations, and activities through various analytical approaches and techniques such as geospatial analysis, temporal analysis and social network analysis,” according to Program Chair Gary Galbraith. ArcGIS is used extensively in the third and fourth years of the program, with students learning not only basic crime mapping techniques but also the analytical skills to use GIS to develop proactive crime prevention strategies and enhance community safety.

Are you interested in learning more about how ArcGIS can be used in crime analysis? Do you think a career as a crime analyst sounds exciting? Register now for The Path to Crime Analysis webinar to learn more about the role of location in policing and crime analysis and the mapping tools available in ArcGIS.

Do you know of any other crime analysis programs in Canada? Share them with us in the comments!

About the Author

Krista Amolins

Krista Amolins is a Higher Education Developer and Analyst in the Esri Canada Education and Research group. Her responsibilities include developing resources for use by students and faculty at colleges and universities, focusing particularly on LiDAR, JavaScript and Android app development; collaborating on projects with researchers at select universities; and coordinating the Esri Canada scholarship programs. She has a PhD in Geomatics Engineering from the University of New Brunswick and also holds the Esri ArcGIS Desktop Associate Certification.

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