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New Effort to Stop Human Trafficking Uses Data Analysis to Follow the Money

A coalition of nonprofits, law enforcement, and financial institutions is working to prevent human trafficking via the Traffik Analysis Hub, a system that aims to identify trafficking networks by analyzing the movement of money.

The system uses IBM i2 software, which leverages augmented intelligence and machine learning to recognize terms and incidents related to human trafficking groups’ exchanges.

According to the International Labour Organization, human traffickers rake in $150 billion in profits annually through forced labor—whether its agricultural, industrial, domestic, or prostitution—with an estimated 40.3 million people enslaved worldwide.

Hosted by IBM’s cloud services, the Hub will be accessible to coalition members. This includes IBM, anti-slavery group STOP THE TRAFFIK, financial services company Western Union, telecommunications company Liberty Global, British banks Barclays and Lloyds, Europol, and the University College London.

“The data hub is a crucial development in the fight against human trafficking, and builds on IBM’s longstanding commitment to help combat the issue,” Guillermo Miranda, vice president of IBM corporate citizenship, said in a statement. “By STOP THE TRAFFIK bringing together leaders across multiple sectors, from financial institutions to academia, and applying IBM’s AI and cloud-based technologies, we can facilitate collaboration and problem solving at scale to help solve this severe global issue.”

With improved data on trafficking trends and hotspots, STOP THE TRAFFIK hopes to better implement awareness programs to stop human trafficking. And since the Hub uses machine learning, it will become more accurate over time, potentially developing the ability to predict cases of human trafficking.