Tag Archives: nonprofit

Data Science, Startups, and Sex Trafficking

What is Sex Trafficking?

It is a form of human trafficking and according to Wikipedia, human trafficking

is the trade in humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others; or for the extraction of organs or tissues, including surrogacy and ova removal; or for providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage.

Human trafficking is modern day slavery, and at any time more than 20 million people worldwide are victims (see the US Trafficking In Persons Report). Sex Trafficking is a specific form of human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

What does this have to do with Data Science?

Well, data is being collected about victims of human trafficking and online advertisements targeting potential victims. Lots of data is being collected and not enough analysis is being done. Luckily, some organizations have teamed up to help fight human trafficking and sex slavery.

Startups like Palantir and SumAll are getting involved in the fight against human trafficking. Startups are not alone; governments and Universities are also getting involved.

  • Palantir is working with Google and Polaris, an organization focused on eliminating human slavery in the U.S. and globally, to coordinate efforts of local human trafficking hotlines. Together they created the Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network. See the latest update from Google Ideas.
  • SumAll.org, a non-profit spin-off of the startup SumAll.com, is an organization that provides data analytic capabilities to non-profit organizations making a social impact for good. One of the first projects of SumAll.org was Human Trafficking.
  • Rescue Forensics is a Y Combinator startup helping law enforcement collect online data to capture and prosecute human traffickers.
  • DARPA and Carnegie Mellon University are jointly working to use Natural Language Processing (NLP), computer vision, and machine learning to identify online ads used by sex traffickers.
  • Thorn is an organization that is specifically trying to stop the trafficking of children.
  • Even the Clinton Foundation is involved.

How can you get involved?

The issue of human trafficking is very complicated, and it will take many years and many people to solve. Therefore, it is a great time for you to get involved. Below are some organizations seeking volunteers

  • DataKind is an organization working to match up data scientists with data from non-profits. DataKind runs a number of data-dives/hackathons and special projects centered around using data science to help produce a positive global impact. Although DataKind works with a number of organizations and not all are focused on human trafficking, DataKind does work with a number of organizations that are fighting for global human rights. If you are interested in becoming involved with DataKind, please fill out the Get Involved Form. They are looking for volunteers regardless of your location.
  • SumAll.org is actively seeking volunteers and interns. They are seeking volunteers for data science, visualization, blogging, and KPI monitoring. Like DataKind, not all the projects are human trafficking, but they are focused on changing the world.
  • There are also many local organizations working to fight human trafficking. Find an organization near you via the Global Modern Slavery Directory.
  • Samaritan’s Purse, although not specifically seeking data volunteers, does a lot of work to combat human trafficking across the globe.

If you are a victim or have information about human trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1 (888) 373-7888.

If you know of any other organizations working on data analysis of human trafficking, please leave a comment.

Data Without Borders is now DataKind

The Non-Profit Organization Data Without Borders has renamed itself to DataKind.

Here is the official announcement.

DataKind is an organisation that matches data from non-profit and government organisations with data scientists. DataKind hosts weekend DataDives and they are planning to build a DataCorps. See a previous post, Use Data Science to Help The World, to find out more about what DataKind is all about.

Use Data Science to Help The World (Data Without Borders)

Data Without Borders

Jake Porway started Data Without Borders because he attended a hack-a-thon and the groups came up with apps that didn’t really better the world very much. I believe he used the word, “unfulfilling” to describe the apps. He decided to create a way to provide organizations (Government or non-profit) with access to data scientists. His thinking goes like this. There are lots of data scientists that love to work with data. There are great organization with lots of data. If the two can be matched together, what amazing things can be done? Data Without Borders hopes to find out.

Data Without Borders organizes a bunch of DataDives, which are weekend hack-a-thons that match up a group of data scientists and developers with data.

Jake concluded with some wonderful remarks:

What if we started using data not just to make better decisions about what kind of movies we wanted to see? What if we started using data to make betters decisions about what kind of a world we wanted to see?

What is Data Without Borders looking for?

Jake’s Presentation at PopTech