Travelers can fight sex trafficking during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month (January) by taking a photo of your hotel or motel room and uploading it to a free anti-trafficking app.
Photos uploaded with the TraffickCam app are added anonymously to a national database that’s used by law enforcement and criminal investigators to locate victims and their pimps.
The TraffickCam app captures room features such as carpeting patterns, furniture, accessories and views outside the windows. Those features can be matched by law enforcement against photos advertising sex trafficking victims who are posed in hotel rooms.
TraffickCam does not store any personally identifying information other than the phone’s GPS location, and any images including people are rejected.
More than 102,000 apps have been downloaded since TraffickCam was launched in the summer of 2016, according to Exchange Initiative, a social action organization. TraffickCam was developed by Exchange Initiative and researchers at Washington University in St. Louis.
So far, the public has uploaded nearly 100,000 photos to a database of 1.5 million publicly available hotel room photos preloaded by the developers. More than 150,000 hotels are now represented in the database.
The public can learn additional ways to take action and support further development of the TraffickCam database at www.exchangeinitiative.com. Donations will be doubled through a $100,000 matching gift from the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.
Sex trafficking is a form of modern day slavery that forces children and adults to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. Young victims are coerced into the sex trade through fraud, drugs, force, debt bondage and intimidation at an average age of 12 to 14.
According to UNICEF, 5.5 million children worldwide are trafficked each year.
“Criminals take advantage of technology to advertise and coordinate illegal sex trafficking,” said Dr. Richard Pless, TraffickCam developer and Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the Washington University School of Engineering & Applied Science. “We’re using new technologies to fight sex trafficking with this app that allows everyone to contribute data and with new image analysis tools to help law enforcement use the images in investigations.”
What a brilliant way to use modern technology!
National Human Trafficking Resource Center
1 (888) 373-7888
SMS: 233733 (Text “HELP” or “INFO”)