Crime Solving and Tech

Cutline: Police SWAT team uses Recon Scout Robot in a school


Tech plays an important role in solving crime today from the streets to the online world. Whether it’s a police officer at the scene of a crime or a digital forensics analyst at headquarters – there are a range of crime solving careers to choose from that rely on tech during critical times where each second could save a life.

For example, police officers use automatic license plate reader software to scan thousands of plates in seconds to find missing people, criminals and stolen cars. iPads and other tablets are becoming an essential part of police work because they allow officers to save precious time by taking notes and statements from witnesses and suspects right at the scene of the crime.

Social media is also playing an increasing role in solving crimes. Data analytics are now used to help solve crimes by tracking what suspects were doing and who they were connecting with prior to a committing a crime. Even deleted text messages or tweets leave hidden data trails that a digital forensic analyst can uncover to reveal the intimate details of a criminal’s life.

Thanks to popular TV shows like Criminal Minds and CSI, crime solving tech that tracks cell phone calls or uncovers digital evidence from criminals’ computers is perceived as cool and mind-blowing. There are real-world tech careers in criminal justice for anyone who enjoys such challenges as finding clues to a crime in a mountain of data. Or, apply computer forensics to catch hackers and even workers who are embezzling money from their employers. Crime solvers aren’t only hired by police departments but also find careers in fields like banking, retail and government.

Cool Crime Solving Tech

When sending police officers or a police dog into an active crime scene is too dangerous, the Recon Scout Throwbot serves as the eyes and ears of the detectives. Operated by a remote control, it’s a very small robot on wheels with a camera and sensors. It can be thrown into a dangerous crime scene like spying on the location of armed criminals in a building and listening to their conversations. Its infrared cameras are even capable of seeing in complete darkness!

Police technologies are catching up with science fiction. When police chases get out of hand, U.S. officers are starting to use special GPS-equipped darts that attach to a fleeing vehicle and track its movements while keeping everyone safe. The darts prevent high-speed James Bond-type pursuits from getting out of control and harming innocent people.

Thermal imaging technology helped the Boston police apprehend the second brother in the Boston Marathon bombing who was hiding in a boat at a Massachusetts residence in April 2013. Thermal cameras detect heat and help investigators track people through walls of buildings or heavily wooded areas as they try to escape police.

Cool Crime Solving and Tech Careers

Digital Forensics Analysts mash up a passion for all things digital with investigative skills in policing, law, the military or business. Wherever you find data – and that’s pretty much everywhere – digital forensics analysts use it to pursue criminals, terrorists, hackers and corporate crooks.

Crime Analysts identify crime hot spots in communities and analyze patterns and trends to create crime maps using computer and digital tools like Geographic Information Systems (GIS). They work either as civilians or officers in independent agencies and police departments. They sort through environmental, spatial, statistical and crime data to profile suspects geographically so police departments know where to focus their limited resources.

Computer Crime Investigators research and solve all kinds of computer crimes ranging from computer hackers to crimes against children. They’re also savvy at recovering lost data from computers that can be used in prosecuting crimes. Once they collect the evidence, they put it together into a report and often testify in court.

App Developers create new mobile tools ranging from increased personal online security against hackers to tracking crime in your neighborhood. As more officers use tablets and smartphones to log evidence at crime scenes, the demand for extra-specialized apps increases, calling for more app developers focused on new tech related to solving crimes.

Robotics Engineers  design and build robots for policing like the Recon Scout Throwbot (see video above). Robotics engineers are the geniuses who create robots to be the eyes and ears of crime fighters in sensitive situations. The robotics field is booming right now with many career opportunities for those who love building cool things!

Education Paths

If the forensics field intrigues you, consider completing a university Computer Science degree from institutions such as the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), or the University of Toronto.

You can work in the ever changing fields of computer security and digital crime through a specialized Digital Forensics certificate from Ryerson University or a Computer Security and Investigations program at Fleming College. These types of programs prepare you for careers in crime-related fields like network security, computer cryptography and digital investigation.

Sheridan College has a four-year program in Applied Information Systems Security that includes 28-week on-the-job internships where students get to apply their skills in network and database security, data forensics, cryptology, programming and other areas.

Preparing for a career in robotics engineering can be a mash up of multidisciplinary courses across electronics, mechanics and computer programming. For example, the University of Toronto has a robotics and mechatronics stream in its electrical and computer engineering program. You can also take college-level robotics courses in advanced electromechanical engineering diploma programs at Sheridan, George Brown, Centennial, Humber, St. Clair, or Fanshawe College.