Tech Against Trafficking (TAT) celebrated its collaboration with the Counter Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC) at an event last week in London, which showcased the results of the first Tech Against Trafficking Accelerator.

The goal of CTDC is to make it easy to access, analyze, and safely share reliable, up-to-date data from the world’s largest human trafficking case dataset. CTDC, an initiative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), entered the Accelerator to enhance its data standards and privacy-preserving methodology and refine its partnership engagement process by working with Tech Against Trafficking member companies, including Amazon, AT&T, BT, Microsoft, and Salesforce.org.

Harry Cook, Data Management and Research Specialist at IOM, noted that CTDC was “delighted to have been part of the very first TAT Accelerator Program.” Cook went on to say, “It has been truly enriching to get the perspective of technology sector professionals on our work, and their expertise and contribution will have a positive and lasting impact on CTDC.”

Over the course of the seven-month Accelerator, CTDC partnered with Tech Against Trafficking members and partners across different workstreams related to privacy-preserving mechanisms, data standards, and increased platform engagement.

Privacy-Preserving Analytics

Understanding the scale and scope of human trafficking is essential for effective resource allocation, technology application, and policy development. However, one of the critical challenges of the anti-trafficking community is how to share victim data for analysis while protecting the privacy and safety of the individual victims represented in that data.

Darren Edge, director at Microsoft Research Special Projects, explains the challenge:

“Working on the Accelerator has encouraged us to think about human trafficking data from the perspective of both victims and traffickers and to answer one big question: How can we share data on victims of trafficking while protecting their privacy and safety, especially given the risk that traffickers may retaliate against victims they believe are identifiable in any data release?”

Over the course of the Accelerator, the Privacy Preserving Analytics Platform workstream created a solution that provides access to more data, more accurate data, and the means to analyze it more deeply than would otherwise be possible. The end result is an easy-to-use visual interface of both synthetic data and precomputed statistics, enabling accurate analysis without exposing any data on actual identifiable individuals.

The next step for the work is to publish the resulting data on the CTDC website for use by and feedback from the anti-trafficking community. We hope that the work will set new privacy standards for the analysis of human trafficking data, as well as any sensitive data needed to tackle urgent problems affecting people and society.

Developing Data Standards for Victim Case Management

Recent technology advances have enabled a growing number of organizations worldwide to develop cost-effective victim case management systems and services. However, organizations frequently use different terminology and criteria when assessing and inputting victim information, which makes it difficult to share case data among the anti-trafficking community, conduct meaningful analysis, and understand the scale of the problem.

To address this challenge, the Accelerator’s Case Management and Data Standards workstream collaborated to develop a ‘data standard,’ which established common criteria and language that can be used across organizations managing victim case data.

Working closely with IOM as they plan their upcoming digital case management system, the workstream kicked off with knowledge-sharing sessions on case management operating models, security, mobile technology solutions, and artificial intelligence (AI)/analytics to help improve the security, privacy, and systems integration of IOM’s digital case management. The workstream went on to develop and publish an initial data standard on GitHub that can be used by organizations looking to develop victim case management systems and makes it easier for existing organizations to share datasets and analyze trends.

The next stage of this work will be to engage a community of experts, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and technology companies in enhancing these standards and developing tools to accelerate their adoption.

Engaging Stakeholders to Drive Impact

It is important to understand how data platforms are currently used and could be used by different stakeholders in order to maximize utility and impact. The Stakeholder Engagement workstream focused on the value of CTDC to businesses and spoke to a handful of companies to understand how CTDC’s platform could help their counter-trafficking efforts. Questions focused on what additional data, trends, or information stakeholders would find helpful and what data could feed into CTDC’s current dataset and platform to add more value.

The workstream identified two main themes: expanding the platform dataset and improving user experience. Insights from the interviews informed recommendations on how CTDC could consider expanding offerings to corporate partners in the future. The workstream also created new material to encourage other organizations to share their data with CTDC and make it easier to integrate new datasets into CTDC’s platform.

Looking Forward

As Tech Against Trafficking concludes its first Accelerator, we look forward to continuing our efforts towards using technology in the global endeavor to eradicate human trafficking. More details from the Tech Against Trafficking CTDC Accelerator will be shared in an impact report to be published shortly.

At Tech Against Trafficking, we want to see technology make a real difference for anti-trafficking organizations. In addition to supporting individual organizations working to advance and scale the impact of their work, we hope to support the use of technology to connect anti-trafficking organizations, share data, raise awareness, and improve case management across the sector. We invite all technology companies and anti-human trafficking organizations who are interested in seeing this happen to contact us to find out how to get involved.