More than 20 million people in the world are subjected to modern-day slavery: human trafficking. The second-largest criminal enterprise in the world and one of the fastest-growing criminal industries, human trafficking generates at least $32 billion of illicit profits every year. Polaris Project, Liberty Asia and La Strada International received a $3-million Global Impact Award from Google (News - Alert) to connect anti-trafficking data to help identify criminal patterns, and provide victims anywhere in the world with more effective support.
The recent grant brings Google’s total commitment for anti-trafficking efforts to $14.5 million.
“By connecting technologists and experts with those who understand and have lived through trafficking situations, our discussion centered around a fundamental question: What if local, national, and regional anti-trafficking helplines across the globe were all connected in a data-driven network that helped disrupt the web of human trafficking?” Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas, and Jacquelline Fuller, director of Google Giving, explained in a blog post.
As defined under U.S. federal law, victims of human trafficking include children involved in the sex trade, adults 18 or over who are coerced or deceived into commercial sex acts, and anyone forced into different forms of "labor or services," such as domestic workers held in a home, or farm workers forced into labor against their will.
The companies are collaborating to provide the Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network to collect data from local hotline efforts, share practices and create anti-trafficking strategies that build on common patterns and focus on eradication, prevention and victim protection. For example, the network can examine movement and seasonal patterns of traffickers to help determine what areas are being targeted and when.
Data can tell what campaigns are most effective at reducing slavery, what sectors are undergoing global spikes of slavery or if the reduction slavery in one country coincides with an increase right across the border.
Palantir Technologies, a provider of software applications for integrating, visualizing and analyzing information, is expanding on its existing relationship with Polaris Project by donating its data integration and analytics platform for the network. Salesforce.com (News - Alert) is helping support Polaris Project’s hotline center to scale call tracking infrastructure internationally.
Polaris Project’s statistics from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline in 2011 showed the movement is paying off; greater awareness of human trafficking is leading to more victims being identified and served. Call volume increased by 64 percent over the previous year, connecting 2,945 human trafficking victims to services and support, and calls to the hotline by self-identifying victims of human trafficking increased nearly 61 percent over 2010.
The entire report can be read here.
“No such actionable hotline database has existed globally — but it doesn’t need to be that way,” said Cohen and Fuller. “Clear international strategies, increased cooperation, and appropriate data sharing amongst anti-trafficking organizations will help victims, prevention efforts, and sound policymaking. Slavery can be stopped. Let's get to it.”