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Human Trafficking App Helps Locate Victims

  • Published on
    June 25, 2016
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A new human trafficking app can help trafficking victims.  Molly Hackett directs a meeting and planning company that arranges  conferences, meetings, and events.  But she and her sister have another interest that keeps them busy too. They are partners in Exchange Initiative…

She defines it:  “It’s to bring awareness to minors in sex trafficking in travel and tourism.  And authorities say the public can help, just by taking photos of their hotel rooms while they travel.

They worked together with a team at Washington University to create a new free smart phone app called Traffick Cam, which allows the public to assist authorities combat modern-day trafficking.  Sgt. Adam Kavanaugh from St. Louis: “It’s happening in every kind of hotel, from the five star to the ones that only drug dealers stay at. We’re seeing more boys and girls between ages of 14 and 16.”

The app allows hotel guests to enter information about where they’re staying, including the hotel name and room number. They can also upload four pictures of their room, leaving out any personal belongings.  “Try to capture the pictures or lamps or other décor items.”

It is important to show descriptive features of the room and from different angles.

Then investigators around the U.S. can cross-reference the hotel photos of trafficking victims that generally appear online to see if there are any similarities.  They use the latest image analysis.

Hackett explains “The search algorithms will run and return to the investigators the most probably location of those victims.  The hope is the app will cut down on the amount of time police need to try and intervene in a sex trafficking case.”

Kavanaugh added, “We’ll be able to identify more closely were they are at.”  So far the app has a storehouse of more than a million hotel photos.  And the police say photos can continue to be added.

Hackett said the program has an 85% success rate of returning the correct location within the first 20 options to officers.

To read more about the human trafficking app, click on the link below.


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