Current Projects

Modelling in Criminology Projects

The Criminal Justice System

Project leader: Alexa van der Waall (
Project funded in part by: The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, the Ministry of Attorney General, the National Science and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC)

The criminal justice system is highly complex, with multiple feedback loops.  Therefore, determining system capacity and optimal resource allocation is challenging.  How should resources be balanced between the police, the Crown Attorney’s office, the courts and corrections in order for the system to operate smoothly and without bottlenecks?  To address this, and related questions, the CSMG has modelled the integrated criminal justice system.  In close collaboration with the Ministry of Attorney General and the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, these models are being used to examine issues of public policy within the criminal justice system. This research relies on the recognized expertise of SFU’s School of Criminology and Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies (ICURS).

Criminal Networks

Project leaders: Sandy Rutherford ( and Uwe Glässer (
Project funded in part by: MITACS

In recent years, the criminal justice system has placed increasing emphasis on understanding the network structures of organized crime. These network structures have both social and economic aspects: the social network is coupled to an economic network through which members benefit financially through illegal activities, such as the distribution and sale of illegal drugs. Many of the same market forces at play in the legal economy drive this underground economy as well, including risk versus reward and supply versus demand. This project is building network models of criminal organizations to evaluate the potential effectiveness of different methods for disruption or destabilization of the criminal network.  Questions being addressed include:

  • Is it more effective to target the social structure of the network, its economy, or perhaps a combined approach?
  • If the social structure is targeted, is it more effective to focus on the leadership structure by arresting the leaders of the organization or to attack its recruitment mechanisms through community interventions?
  • If the illegal economy of a drug distribution network is targeted, is it more effective to focus on traffickers or on interventions aimed at reducing the street value of drugs?

Through the use of dynamical modelling methods, we hope to answer these questions.

Modelling in Healthcare Projects


Project leaders: Sandy Rutherford (, Krisztina Vásárhelyi ( and Robert Hogg (
Project funded in part by: The British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV and AIDS (BC-CfE), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (PIMS) and MITACS

In collaboration with the BC-CfE, the CSMG is currently modelling issues critical to the HIV epidemic in Canada and elsewhere through its formation of the group entitled the Interdisciplinary Modelling for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of HIV (IMPACT-HIV).  Because the HIV epidemic presents complex problems that require increasingly comprehensive and powerful methods, the IMPACT-HIV group relies on the broad range of expertise of its members in mathematical modelling and other analytical techniques as well as in the biological, clinical, epidemiological, social and operational aspects of the HIV epidemic to address these issues through a multidisciplinary approach.  Currently, IMPACT-HIV focuses on three main research areas:

  1. Mathematical modelling of the spread and control of HIV among injection drug users
  2. Estimating HIV incidence and the proportion of undiagnosed HIV infections
  3. Estimating the impact of expanding access to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on the utilization and costs of acute care services provided to individuals infected with HIV in British Columbia

Multiple methods are implemented in the modelling process in each area, including analytical methods, ordinary and delay differential equation models, network models, queuing networks and operational research approaches.

Completed Projects