Risk Terrain Modeling, or RTM, is an approach to spatial risk analysis that utilizes a geographic information system to attribute qualities of the real world to places on a digitized map. It operationalizes the spatial influence of risk factors to common geographic units, then combines separate layers to produce “risk terrain” maps showing the presence, absence, or intensity of all risk factors at every location throughout the landscape. Theoretically- and empirically-grounded risk terrain maps show where conditions are conducive for crimes or other hazardous events to occur in the future. RTM offers a statistically valid way to articulate and communicate criminogenic and vulnerable areas at the micro-level.

With the growing utilization of intelligence-led operations in the public safety and security community, risk assessments for crime and other hazards are especially important for tactical actions, resource allocations, and short- and long-term planning. Use the resources below to produce risk terrain models and maps that give actionable meaning to the relationships that exist between place-based indicators and crime outcomes.

Risk Terrain Modeling Manual: Theoretical Framework and Technical Steps of Spatial Risk Assessment

Risk Terrain Modeling

Compendium: For Crime Analysis

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This manual is offered as a primer on risk in the criminal event and demonstrates effective ways to apply RTM to crime analysis and policing operations. It begins with a review of the RTM approach to spatial risk assessment and presents a short overview of the theoretical underpinnings of criminological theory that have addressed the social and environmental factors that contribute to crime patterns, hotspots, and risk terrains. The second part details the technical steps for analysts to take in using ArcGIS software to develop risk terrain maps. The third and final part presents ideas of how RTM works in strategic and tactical decision-making, particularly within the context of the ACTION model for risk-based intelligence-led policing.


Presents applications and concepts of RTM that were not already discussed at length in the RTM Manual. Part 1 presents an overview of risk terrain modeling, explains the history of its development, and discusses techniques for operationalizing spatial influence. Part 2 is a series of literature reviews with risk factors that are known to be related to a variety of crime types. Part 3 demonstrates how RTM may be applied to different crime types and settings, and how it can be used for a variety of practical endeavors, such as forecasting crime or evaluating place-based interventions. Part 4 concludes the book with thought pieces about RTM's potential applications to research, technologies, and activities related to public safety and security.


Analyzing and Visualizing Worldwide Spatial Data: An Application of Risk Terrain Modeling

This 1:42 minute video uses Google Earth to demonstrate how differences between lower-risk places and higher-risk places can be observed at street-level environmental contexts. Click to view


Video & audio demonstration that let's you proceed at your own pace. Click to begin. ~28 minutes.

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Presents the conceptual issues surrounding global risk and demonstrates effective ways to apply mapping techniques to global data. The intrinsic character of global threats and their low frequency of occurrence pose certain challenges in the operationalization of risk events. We consider the temporal as well as spatial factors that precede, interact with, and follow the incident's occurrence. This book equips the reader with the skills for responding to conceptual and methodological differences, challenges, and novelties of the data analysis process, and demonstrates effective ways to apply mapping techniques and risk terrain modeling methods to transnational data. We use the outbreaks of governmental internal armed conflict to demonstrate an application of risk terrain modeling (RTM) for spatial risk assessment at both the national and sub-national levels on a global extent. (Part I) Reviews the RTM approach to spatial risk assessment and presents a short overview of the theoretical underpinnings of globalization theory. (Part II) Technical steps of RTM. (Part III) How RTM can be used for strategic and tactical decision-making.

Where in the World is RTM?

Risk Terrain Modeling Worldwide in a larger map

Google Map Data Sources: RTM webinars, Rutgers research partners, personal communication, conference proceedings, presentations, journal publications, reports, google searches, and other information known to RCPS Associates at the time each respective point was added to the map. Corrections will be made if RCPS Associates learn of any errors.

Workshop/Training Webinar

Taught by instructors from the Rutgers Center on Public Security who originated and advanced the RTM technique. Covers the process for creating risk terrain models and maps using basic tools available in common GIS software.


Registration Open: Next class begins Feb. 3, 2014.

Click Here for more details.

ArcGIS Tools

RTM Toolbox for ArcGIS 9.3 (Updated 5/2011)

RTM Toolbox for ArcGIS 10 (Updated 4/2012) 

RTM Google Group



Be the first to learn about RTM-related news and events. Click on the link to join or learn more. This email discussion group is an outlet for users to share thoughts, post questions, seek advice, share RTM experiences, and see what others have to say. Only members can post comments, but all content is public. 


Books, full-text articles, book chapters, research briefs, literature reviews of crime risk factors, and case studies are all up-to-date and ready for download at the Publications Page

For Crime Analysis: Look for the symbol

For Global Threats: Look for the symbol



Supplemental Tutorials and Recommended Resources

Using Poisson and Negative Binomial Regression Models to Measure the Influence of Risk on Crime Incident Counts PDF


Frequent Answers to Questions (FAQs): A Brochure for Command Staff PDF


Adding Map Layers To Google Earth (Tutorial) PDF


Technical differences for RTM in ArcGIS 10 vs. 9.3 PDF

Step-by-step guide for testing predictive validity, weighting, and selecting risk map layers PDF

Notes on Testing Predictive Validity, Spatial Autocorrelation and Selecting Risk Map Layers PDF

Video Demo of SPSS to test a RTMl's predictive validity (~3min, no audio) Link

Video Demo of Epi Info to test RTM's predictive validity (~2min, no audio) Link


GIS for Public Safety: An annotated guide to ArcGIS tools and procedures (Free PDF download) Link

Epi Info (Free statistical software from the CDC; useful for testing predictive validity of RTM) Link


RTM in Action

NIJ Grant Enables Partnership with 6 PDs nationwide to deploy RTM Link


RTM and Burglary: A Countywide Initiative (from Geography & Public Safety Vol 3, Iss 1. Begins on page 5) Link

KCPD Chief Corwin's Blog Post (July 20, 2010) Link

New Technique Predicts Crime Risk (The Informant, August 2010) Link

New Police Program Identifies High-Risk Areas (KCTV News 5 Video) Link


Related Honors & Awards

2012. Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) Donal MacNamara Award for Outstanding Journal Publication. For the article in Justice Quarterly, 2011, 28(2). Link

2011. Community Engagement Award for Community Research, Rutgers University-Newark Office of the Chancellor. Link

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