Leveraging modern technology like Big Data for children's safety

Nov 21, 2017

Innovation and technology to fight child trafficking

Modern technology such as Big Data and Analytics can provide cutting-edge tools in the battle against human trafficking. Data analysis, mapping programs, as well as image recognition are all being used by law enforcement and anti-trafficking NGOs in Western countries. They use such technology in order to locate victims in real time as well as predict the perpetrators’ next moves. This has been made possible by sharing of information in order to globally develop prevention strategies that could be based on the behavior of traffickers. Photographs are extracted from advertisements floated by escort agencies as well as websites. These are then matched with pictures of the missing persons. Internet tools are being utilized to geocode telephone numbers and understand the networks and distribution of the various actors of the trafficking marketplace.

India a transit and destination point in child trafficking

India is fast emerging as a destination, source, as well as a transit country for child trafficking, particularly for commercial sexual exploitation. Around 90% of trafficking in India is inter-state, which sees millions of children trafficked into prostitution. According to several NGO estimates, there are as many as 12,000–50,000 women as well as children trafficked in India every year. Thousands of girls are trafficked from Nepal and Bangladesh. Approximately 200,000 Nepalese children are in prostitution in India.

Police and law enforcement agencies would need cutting-edge tools to beat the criminals at their game. Traffickers leverage technology, social media as well as smart phones with GPS tracking in order to entice victims and monitor them. They keep a tab on the whereabouts of trafficked children. The perpetrators utilize Internet platforms and groups to function like a marketplace for buying and selling of trafficked children.

“Big Data Analytics can bring forth interesting connections and links which could have escaped investigators. It is useful in crisis situation when response times have to be short,” says Shashank Dixit, CEO, Deskera.

The Polaris Project: Using Data Science to help missing children

One famous example of such leveraging of modern technology is the Polaris Project, which uses data science. It teamed up with Palantir, a data analytics company, to devise new software tools. Data gathered from legal service providers, telephone calls, company contacts, and from other sources are brought to a single as well as user-friendly platform. Palantir is also helping other anti-trafficking organizations such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

“If the link to relevant service provider can be made in a minute as opposed to 5 mins of a search through file folder or Excel sheet, that opportunity window could remain open for intervention or could close in a short span of time,” says Jason Payne, the force behind Palo Alto-based Palantir’s team, during an interview.

Let’s take a pledge on this World Children’s Day in order to optimize use of available tech to save the children from trafficking.

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