Human Traffic Watch

Using Big Data to Fight Human Trafficking

In Awareness, Human Trafficking, Social Justice on March 7, 2013 at 12:47 pm

If you were asked to name one endeavor that would be the very best application of Big Data technology imaginable, what would it be? How about the fight against human trafficking?

The global industry of buying and selling human beings—call it human trafficking or slavery—is a heartbreakingly bustling one. SumAll Inc., an analytics services startup in New York, has resolved to do something about it. The company has set up a non-profit organization, the SumAll Foundation (, or as the employees call it, “the dot-org”), with the aim of tapping Big Data to further the aims of the global non-profit community. Step One in that noble endeavor is an aggressive assault on human trafficking.

I had the opportunity last week to speak with SumAll CEO Dane Atkinson, and Korey Lee, the company’s vice president of operations and analytics, to discuss the initiative. I started by asking them how the fight against human trafficking emerged as a cause they wanted to use their technology to help with. Lee fielded that one:

There’s a struggle in the non-profit space to understand and leverage data. A lot of non-profits will kind of orient themselves around their success metrics—it’s tough to get them to adhere more to key performance indicators. So we wanted to bring more transparency to this particular issue. There’s not a lot of data published out there, given that slavery and trafficking are illegal across the world. A lot of this information is locked up in PDF reports, hundreds of pages of U.N. documentation, and what not, so it’s not easily accessible and available. So we wanted to transform that and make it a little easier to understand.

Source: IT Business Edge


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