At this World Human Rights Day, let us see how various forms of human exploitation can be combated in the modern world. One of the biggest human rights issues is human trafficking. Law enforcement agencies are expected to take the lead in anti-trafficking measures. Interestingly, a non-profit has been at the forefront of the battle against human trafficking. The Polaris project runs the Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline in the USA. The hotline has reported around 20,000 cases of trafficking spread over 7 years; several of which involved minors. Since 2007, the non-profit has responded to more than 85,000 calls for assistance. In 2015 alone, it reported 1,345 cases; an alarming number.
People are more comfortable talking to an independent NGO and not a government or a law-enforcement agency, says Bradley Myles , Polaris CEO. He adds that lots of people call with relevant and useful tips and that calls keep coming from all parts of the country, with reports of trafficking ranging from farming to hospitality, from sex work to household work.
The Polaris Project leveraging Big Data Analytics
With criminals getting technology-savvy ( using social media to ensnare victims, utilizing smart phones with GPS tracking to monitor victims, and using Internet platforms and groups as marketplaces for buying and selling), the NGO has devised technology to provide quick turnaround times. This is done through analyzing information from disparate sources, which is huge and unstandardized. The Polaris Project uses data science to locate victims, get help to them in quick time, and deciphering general trafficking trends for later use. The NGO teamed up with Palantir, an analytics company, to devise new tools. The project has gained in strength from its collaboration with a number of high-profile technology giants, including Google and Palantir.
Churning Big Data into Analyzable Real-World Information
Data from telephone calls, legal service providers, company contacts, etc. are brought to a single user-friendly platform. Old crime records were digitized and imported into an analyzable structure. Through this virtual integration, data from various formats and levels was available at one click. The software has meant speedy response times for victims who call the hotline. The tool instantly culls information such as license plate numbers, online ads, and cellphone records to locate victims.
“If that link up to the relevant service provider can be made in a minute or two as opposed to five minutes of a search through a file folder or Excel sheet, that window of opportunity may stay open for intervention or close in a very short time,” said Jason Payne, associated with Palantir’s engineering team. He is right. The loss of 10 minutes could mean the difference between life and death for the trapped person.
Combining data from diverse public and private sources, the tools brought to light 170 different qualitative and quantitative variables per case record. It also leveraged advanced big data analytics tools to evaluate tips, such as phone calls (31,945), online submissions (1,669), and SMSs (787).
“Big Data Analytics bring forward interesting connections and links which could have escaped investigators. It is useful in crisis situations when response times are really short,” says the official of a Big Data company.
Let’s take a pledge to remove human suffering across the globe on this World Human Rights Day. Since the proclamation of Human Rights in 1948, ‘human rights have been one of the three pillars of United Nations, along with peace and development,” Secretary-General António Guterres has said in his message on World Human Rights Day. And rightly so.