IBM Impact Grants

Connecting the Dots to Fight Modern Day Slavery

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How do investigators assemble clues from complex crime rings that stretch around the globe? And how can technology assist law enforcement when those criminal enterprises involve modern slavery – often called “human trafficking”?

STOP THE TRAFFIK CEO Ruth Dearnley, OBE, addresses representatives from business, finance, law enforcement and the non-profit sector in New York City on March 28, 2017.

Trafficking people for profit is the world’s fastest growing crime. Perpetrators usually recruit victims under false pretenses and transport them across international borders for various forms of exploitation – including prostitution and forced labor in such industries as agriculture, construction, domestic services, hospitality and manufacturing. Paid little or nothing, typically unaware of their rights, and unable to move freely or escape their “employers”, trafficked individuals are a significant part of the global practice of slavery that still exists in the 21st Century.

To systematically build cases against the bad guys, investigators use smart software such as IBM i2 Analyst’s Notebook, which correlates points of data to reveal patterns of activity that law enforcement can analyze to fight crime. IBM is now donating this technology to not-for-profits such as STOP THE TRAFFIK, which is dedicated to combating human trafficking, and serves as an international resource for like-minded organizations.

IBM i2 Analyst’s Notebook software identifies, catalogues, and connects nuggets of information to create a visual representation of relationships among people, places and entities involved in trafficking. This information can easily be shared between investigators and law enforcement to accelerate interventions at any phase of trafficking – including the points of origin where innocent people are coerced or tricked into the system.

At a recent STOP THE TRAFFIK event attended by representatives from the business, finance, law enforcement and non-profit sectors, IBM Global Citizenship Initiatives Vice President Diane Melley unveiled an IBM Impact Grants solution that provides analytics, mobile, and digital cloud data-sharing technologies to organizations that combat human trafficking. Ms. Melley described how these tools – combined with human know-how – have proven effective. She also announced IBM’s forthcoming pro bono efforts to improve the usability of STOP THE TRAFFIK’s mobile “STOP APP” to end human trafficking.

The app enables citizens to report suspicious activity anonymously, and is part of the STOP THE TRAFFIK-envisioned Centre for Intelligence-Led Prevention. The center will be a clearinghouse of information about global human trafficking trends and hotspots, and will enable investigators to apply intelligence to predict patterns of movement and prevent future criminal activity.

By harnessing analytics to transform data into actionable information – and raising public awareness of the scourge of human trafficking so that everyday citizens can recognize this crime and alert authorities anonymously – we hope one day to make human trafficking a thing of the past.

Martin Laird is Global Program Manager with IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs. “STOP APP – End Human Trafficking” is available for Android and iOS mobile devices.

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Global Program Manager, IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs

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