Google awards $3 million to anti-trafficking helplines

Could data help disrupt the modern slave trade? The new Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network hopes so.
Written by Janet Fang, Contributor

If local, national, and regional anti-trafficking helplines across the globe were connected in a data-driven network, could that disrupt the web of human trafficking? Google wants to know.

Human trafficking enslaves 20 million people, generating at least $32 billion every year. According to  Google’s blog yesterday:

At last summer's Google Ideas summit on mapping, disrupting and exposing illicit networks, it became clear that connecting anti-trafficking helplines in a global data sharing collaboration could help identify illicit patterns and provide victims anywhere in the world with more effective support.

Google is giving a $3 million Global Impact Award to Polaris Project, Liberty Asia and La Strada International - organizations that help victims across the U.S., the Mekong Delta region and Europe, respectively.

More than 65 different hotlines work independently around the world. This new Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network will collect data from them, share promising practices, and create collaborative anti-trafficking strategies.

Palantir Technologies, for instance, will donate its data integration platform, and Salesforce.com will scale its call tracking infrastructure internationally.

With more access to more data from more sources, these organizations hope to find out which campaigns are effective at reducing slavery and what sectors are seeing global spikes in slavery.

For example, in the U.S., there are “nearly double the number of reports from women who are controlled by their pimps on a Wednesday than any other day in the week," Jared Cohen of Google Ideas tells AFP. "We don't know why that's the case -- but because of the integration of this data, we are able to see this as a question."

Calls to hotlines also vary with season and geography, which could help law enforcement figure out where to target traffickers.

This investment brings Google’s total commitment to anti-trafficking efforts to $14.5 million. You can comment on the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking until May 24.

[Via Google's Blog, Atlantic, AFP]

Image: Google

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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