Elsewhere online
January 14, 2015

Anti-Trafficking Groups Harness Big Data to Fight Sex Trade

Organizations combating human trafficking are working with high-tech partners to help victims and identify hot spots in the global sex and slave trades, U.S. News & World Report writes. In conjunction with Silicon Valley companies and law-enforcement bodies, groups are increasingly able to comb financial records, online searches, and other big data sets to uncover and address trafficking activity.

In one example, the philanthropic arm of data-analysis firm Palantir Technologies developed software for the Polaris Project, which operates a national hotline for trafficking victims, often in desperate, immediate need. Using the Palantir program, Polaris specialists can quickly identify resources such as shelters and legal aid in the caller's vicinity, slashing response times, and then harness information from the calls to better map out trafficking locations and trends.

"The power of big data for social impact is really predicting the crisis," said Stefan Heeke, who heads the nonprofit arm of data firm SumAll. Mr. Heeke's organization has studied trafficking trends and used the results in public awareness campaigns.

Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy article on how nonprofits are using big data to revamp programs and fundraising.