By: Hannah Darnton, Business for Social Responsibility

There are few facets of modern life that are untouched by technology. Innovations in the industry have changed the way we communicate, the way we work, the way we conduct commerce, and the way we address global issues like human trafficking and modern slavery.

Modern slavery is a complex, thriving crime with a global foothold, affecting an estimated 40.3 million people. It manifests in a myriad of different forms, necessitating a wide range of increasingly creative responses and preventive approaches. Against this context, a coalition of technology companies have joined the cooperative initiative Tech Against Trafficking, for which BSR serves as the Secretariat and the RESPECT Initiative, founded by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, Babson College and IOM – UN Migration, as the Research Lead.

To further Tech Against Trafficking’s work, the cooperative initiative recently launched an Accelerator Program, which aims to identify promising uses of technology in the anti-trafficking field, and harness the expertise and resources of member companies to advance and scale the work of the organizations deploying technology to assist victims, law enforcement, business, and civil society.

Companies including Amazon, AT&T, BT, Microsoft, Nokia, Salesforce.org, and Vodafone will provide technical expertise, network access, mentorship, and training and educational components to accelerate the growth and impact of the organizations participating in the Accelerator.

Tech Against Trafficking and its member companies have invited two organizations deploying innovative technology solutions to participate in their initial Accelerator Program, set to launch July 2019:

  • Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative: The Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC), an initiative of the International Organization on Migration, is a global human trafficking data hub, publishing harmonized data from counter-trafficking organizations around the world. The goal is to reduce barriers to information-sharing and provide a mechanism for organizations to get data to public and policy audiences. In addition, CTDC helps to build a more complete picture of counter-trafficking trends based on up-to-date, reliable, and standardized data on human trafficking. CTDC hopes to further develop its partnership engagement process and continue to explore and promote best practices around data anonymization, privacy, and security.
  • Unseen UK: Unseen operates the UK Modern Slavery Helpline and Resource Centre. In 2017, Unseen worked with partners to develop the Unseen UK App to make reporting to the UK Modern Slavery Helpline easier. It was designed to help the police and modern slavery groups understand how to respond to cases or suspected cases of human trafficking, create greater awareness on the issue, inform individuals on how to identify signs of exploitation, and report situations of concern. Unseen hopes to scale the impact of the app, while continuing to expand their efforts to create a Pan-European Victim Case Management System for organizations providing services in the anti-trafficking sector.

“We are delighted to have been chosen as one of the charity partners to benefit from the experience, tools, and skills afforded through Tech Against Trafficking,” stated Justine Currell, director at Unseen UK. “Developing our technological capabilities to better educate the public, law enforcement, and businesses—and reach more potential victims to get them the help they need through the Unseen App—is invaluable. Technology is the key to providing enhanced services to potential victims, and maximizing the data collated through the Helpline and the Victim Case Management System helps us to better support prevention activities. We are extremely excited to see the real difference we can make to those who are being abused and exploited through our cooperation with Tech Against Trafficking’s Accelerator Program.”

Harry Cook, data management and research specialist at IOM, and lead of the CTDC, added, “A lack of good evidence has long been hampering counter-trafficking efforts. The prospect of what can be achieved by bringing together the capacity and expertise of the counter-trafficking community and the private sector is exciting.”

The two organizations were invited to join the Accelerator following a research and assessment process which considered over 200 technology tools being used to combat human trafficking. Following an initial evaluation which considered public information on each tools’ impact, scalability, sustainability, interoperability, and effectiveness against their own self-stated goals, the two organizations above were selected to move forward with the first iteration of the Accelerator. Tech Against Trafficking is grateful to CTDC and Unseen UK for their cooperation during this pilot and their support honing-in on a model that can be built upon over time.

Tech Against Trafficking plans to leverage collective resources to ensure that tech tools are deployed for preventing and combating trafficking, keeping the most vulnerable populations safe, and ensuring human rights are protected in both the digital and analog worlds. The intention is also to share learnings and outcomes from this pilot Accelerator with the broader anti-trafficking community.

This was originally published on Business for Social Responsibility Blog

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