April 9th, 2013 | Published in Google Public Policy
Posted by Jared Cohen, Director of Google Ideas and Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Google Giving
Human trafficking, the narcotics trade and weapons smuggling all have one major thing in common: Their ill-gotten proceeds feed conflict, instability and repression worldwide. Out of all of these, human trafficking is perhaps the most devastating, enslaving nearly 21 million people and generating at least $32 billion of illicit profits every year. At last summer's Google Ideas summit on mapping, disrupting and exposing illicit networks, it became clear that connecting anti-trafficking helplines in a global data sharing collaboration could help identify illicit patterns and provide victims anywhere in the world with more effective support. Today, Polaris Project, Liberty Asia, and La Strada International are receiving a $3 million Global Impact Award from Google to do just that. Building on our 2011 grants, this brings our total commitment to anti-trafficking efforts to $14.5 million.
Global Impact Awards support nonprofits that use technology to launch disruptive solutions in their sector. We launched the Global Impact Awards program last December to fund new ideas with a potential for huge scale. And at the Google Ideas INFO summit over the summer, we brought together technologists, leaders, and those with unique personal experiences — including former weapons brokers and survivors of domestic and international human trafficking — to look at illicit networks and their defining obstacles. By connecting technologists and experts with those who understand and have lived through trafficking situations, our discussion centered around a fundamental question: What if local, national, and regional anti-trafficking helplines across the globe were all connected in a data-driven network that helped disrupt the web of human trafficking?
Since the summit, we’ve worked with Polaris Project, Liberty Asia and La Strada International to make this concept a reality. These organizations exist to provide vital help to victims in need across the United States, the Mekong Delta region and Europe. Now, working across borders, this new Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network will collect data from local hotline efforts, share promising practices and create anti-trafficking strategies that build on common patterns and focus on eradication, prevention and victim protection. To enhance the participating organizations' ability to better share, analyze and act upon their data in real time, Palantir Technologies will expand on its existing relationship with Polaris Project by donating its data integration and analytics platform for this project. In addition, Salesforce.com supports Polaris Project's hotline center and is helping scale their call tracking infrastructure internationally.
Together, these partners will not only be able to help more trafficking survivors, but will also move the global conversation forward by dramatically increasing the amount of useful data being shared. Appropriate data can tell the anti-trafficking community which campaigns are most effective at reducing slavery, what sectors are undergoing global spikes in slavery, or if the reduction of slavery in one country coincides with an increase right across the border.
In the U.S., Polaris Project has collected data from over 72,000 hotline calls, helping local and national anti-trafficking communities better understand the dynamics of the crime. No such actionable hotline database has existed globally — but it doesn’t need to be that way. Clear international strategies, increased cooperation, and appropriate data sharing amongst anti-trafficking organizations will help victims, prevention efforts, and sound policymaking. Slavery can be stopped. Let's get to it.