University Led Research Studies

Executive summary

This Privacy Impact Assessment on University Led Research Studies (ULRS) is submitted to provide an overview of the ULRS process. This process is an approach that will be used to provide ULRS Participants RCMP Data (information and personal information) to examine, analyze then provide reports and recommendations from an analytical basis, or to provide another objective view of RCMP business methods and approaches to enable improvement in service delivery to the public. This is an initiative sponsored by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Deputy Solicitor General, Police Services Division, for the Province of British Columbia and the University of the Fraser Valley, with participation by Simon Fraser University. The Ministry of Attorney General – ITSD and the Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General are also contributor stakeholders.

RCMP "E" Division Operations Strategy Branch has initiated University Led Research Studies (ULRS) to examine research, analyze and report on existing practices; and how to improve in various areas on service delivery to the public in an efficient and timely manner. This will include the work involved in any changes to service delivery, recommendations and anticipated impact. ULRS will use an analytical approach to determine the most effective ways to improve service delivery including methods to improve enforcement through examination of existing data (information and personal information) and evidentiary based solutions from a validated academic perspective that are viable for operational implementation. Data gathering, data modeling, reporting and analysis will be done by SFU and UFV researchers under the direction and guidance of professors for the purpose of providing the RCMP with additional tools for improved service delivery and making safer homes and communities for our citizens. The focal point for ULRS is to increase knowledge, conduct research studies and the development of new analysis tools for the improvement of police service delivery in urban and rural environments.

A broad range of techniques in analysis is used to understand crime and service delivery. The goal of ULRS is to work thematically across the disciplines of criminology, computing science, geography, economics and applied mathematics to make advances in understanding the modeling of the urban and rural environments to improve and expedite approaches to service delivery from the inception of the investigation (criminal or non criminal), to the conclusion of the file or service delivery requirement; including presentation of evidence in judicial matters; and the use of informatics in this research.

ULRS works in the following major research areas:

  1. Policy Simulation Mode – to evaluate alternative possibilities (policy planning, methodology, modeling, and approaches - linear/non-linear).
  2. Pattern Analysis – pattern recognition and modeling (perception, cognition, similarity and classification algorithms, urban morphology, primitive rule models)
  3. Data Quality – to correct errors and minimize their impact (fuzzy logic, dynamic acceptable ranges of values, software agents, statistical techniques)
  4. Data Mining – algorithms relevant to Public Safety, the Justice System and Emergency Preparedness (decision trees, neural networks, and genetic algorithms)
  5. Intelligent Agents – to monitor and identify new situations
  6. Data Visualization – interpreting numerical data (Cognitive studies, information filtering, complex data visualization)
  7. Interoperability – to transfer knowledge between data bases (between research centers).

The Centre for Criminal Justice Research at UFV and the Crime Lab at SFU are state of the art crime analysis laboratories providing a high level of privacy and security for interoperability and criminal justice research. Expansion of criminal justice research innovation and research will be conducted into improved service delivery, operational improvement, improvements in delivery of evidence for the justice system, causes of low conviction rates, high accident rates within specific areas, repeat victimization analysis, prolific offenders, recidivism, and justice operations including the economics/costs of crime and evaluation of public safety initiatives. Additional research will also include the inter-operability between justice and urban databases, agent-based modeling, process simulations for experimentation, computational intensive approaches and new visualization techniques.

The scope of the Privacy Impact Assessment is broad and encompasses the use of the past and current Operational Police Records including such systems as the Police Records Information Management Environment (PRIME-BC), Police Records Occurrence System (PROS), and some information from the legacy records management system or other RCMP data sets (information and personal information), and the Police Information Retrieval System (PIRS). ULRS is to assist the RCMP to meet the needs of the 21st Century law enforcement in the improvement of operational police service delivery in a timely manner in the Province of British Columbia, which also supports the mission of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). In addition, ULRS will examine and provide written support on the identification of gaps in present policing techniques, and operational improvement for present time requirements and for the future.

UFV and SFU will be provided RCM Police Data (information and personal information) that has been "sanitized" or "cleansed" of unnecessary identifying attributes. Data will be extracted either from the PRIME-BC system or from the Data Warehouse through CAST (Crime Analysis Search Tool) depending on the requirements of the project. The Server for the Data Warehouse is located in RCMP "E" Division HQ in the Computer Networking area. A query will be written to extract only the data fields required for the study, eliminating the copying of the identifying fields such as: name, address, DOB, SIN, identifying marks, scars, tattoos, or other attributes that may identify an individual. Some studies may require data that includes some identifying fields, however this will only be provided on a project specific basis and in strict accordance with the provisions of the ULRS Policy and Procedures and ULRS MOU. The data will be provided on disk or data tape to enable ULRS agencies to extract data (information and personal information) for analysis to develop statistics, analyzing trends and ad hoc reporting. The reporting will include but not be limited to such information as:

  1. improved service delivery,
  2. operational improvement through policies and procedures,
  3. why there may be a low conviction rate of impaired drivers,
  4. missing elements in the presentation of evidence,
  5. correlation between receipt of call centre information and service delivery of on road response,
  6. missing elements in reporting requirements in the acquisition of evidence
  7. value added in non-reportable (CCJS) CAD information
  8. evaluation of ULRS recommended initiatives
  9. effectiveness of shifting models
  10. the effectiveness of the ALPR program,
  11. the effectiveness of red light cameras,
  12. improvement in media relations and media releases,
  13. the evaluation of public safety initiatives,
  14. new visualization techniques

Operations Strategy Branch, the Policy Center for ULRS, will authorize the release of any and all information with one exception. A highly sensitive RCMP file or report will require the authorization for release from the National Policy Center (CAPS) and the Director General of RCMP Departmental Security.

SFU and UFV will not have connections to NHQ Ottawa CPIC building to enable access to the NPS Network and CPIC for search and maintenance purposes. All personnel at SFU and UFV with access to the extract of Criminal Justice Data available in RCMP data sets, will hold at minimum a RCMP Reliability Clearance and some select few, the project leaders or University IT Staff will hold a Top Secret Security Clearance or Secret Clearance. The extracted RCMP Records data will be housed on secure servers within SFU and UFV secured server rooms. These servers will be utilized for ULRS projects only.

Only authorized designated professors/project leaders or researchers with the appropriate security clearance may access the RCMP data extract information or other RCMP Data. A ULRS MOU and ULRS Policy and Procedures are in place and will be signed off prior providing UFV or SFU ULRS Labs with RCMP Data. The types of information that will be provided to the ULRS Labs will include statistical data but may also include some information and personal information which has been defined by the Privacy Act

Unclear control of personal information

ULRS is an important incremental step in the process of analytical analysis of information gathered by police investigations and police records. The investigative information is processed in the RCMP Records Management and Data Systems including the Quality Assurance and Audit processes. ULRS Agencies are provided 'read only material" with no access rights to edits, amendments or maintenance. ULRS participants will only hold RCMP Data long enough to perform analysis, produce reports and make recommendations. At the conclusion of a project, the RCMP Data is deleted from the ULRS Servers and no longer retained unless held for further research as per the provisions of the Privacy Act.


The RCMP has developed a Memorandum of Understanding for the disclosure of data (information and personal information) with ULRS Participants that binds the participants to the ULRS Policy and Procedure, security requirements and Legislations governing Information and Privacy.

  1. Uses of anonymous data
    ULRS Participants will use data for research and analysis only. The RCMP will provide and ensure that only sanitized / non-identifying data is used rather than valid personal information except where it is specifically identified that "raw" data is required for a particular study. This will be on an "exception" basis.
  2. Summary of PIA
    The Policy on Privacy Impact Assessment requires that a Summary of the PIA be made publicly available. The RCMP ATIP Authority has established a formal Departmental process to publish PIA summaries on the RCMP website in order to make them publicly available in both official languages. This summary represents a format suitable for public consumption.

In conclusion, any privacy issues identified in the PIA can be resolved through the development and documentation of appropriate procedures and processes that will ensure compliance with the Access to Information and Privacy Acts.

Date modified: