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Updated: Nov 19, 2021

Mary Adams - Founder of Sustainable Rescue Foundation

Friday 27th August 2021

Survivor-centered knowledge on their trafficking experience is an invaluable resource in investigations, prosecution and most importantly, prevention. Many organizations throughout the human trafficking landscape are empowering survivors to share their stories. Although Sustainable Rescue Foundation is not involved in fieldwork, we act as an advisor with a Police Field Lab in the Netherlands. This lab is focused on understanding sex trafficking routes between Romania and (within) the Netherlands from a survivors’ point of view. During a Field Lab session in 2020, the Dutch police shared a successful sting operation on law enforcement data sharing. A Romanian woman had been kidnapped and forced into prostitution. Dutch police were given a Romanian license plate and a Rotterdam address. After surveillance, the police rescued the victim and arrested the suspect. Our question as advisors was why did the story stop there? The perpetrator wasn’t talking, but what about the survivor?

In this digital age, the trafficking business model has evolved, making it more difficult to investigate all the criminal activities and resources involved. The simple days of individual (1:1) traffickers who operate on their own are lessening. Opportunistic associations are increasing. Business Enterprise models for trafficking (many:many relationships) within organized crime groups bring in more players and make actions difficult to track because criminal services can be discretely purchased. This effectively splinters the knowledge of participation within the trafficking chain.

The challenge is how to gather data and use technology to get an integrated view of criminal activities that transforms victim experiences into data insights. Sustainable Rescue Foundation developed a theorem on survivor-centered knowledge discovery.

Everything we know about successful data sharing is based on a trust network between parties. Who would Romanian sex workers trust with the real story and the history behind the story? We gained permission from the Dutch Police Field Lab to run a parallel project on Romanian sex workers. We contacted three Dutch care providers providing aid to Romanian women. We asked them to help us develop an open-ended questionnaire about transport routes, payment, lodging, etc. Each NGO had a staff member who spoke Romanian and knew women willing to participate. Twelve anonymous one-hour interviews were recorded. We were ready for the next steps in data transcription, cleaning, and translation. But then we bumped into a problem.

The Dutch police lab was ready to begin a project to surveil 10 Romanian sex workers selected at random from their database. This brought a new element of survivor protection and safety into our mindset. We had the 12 recorded interviews, but if the police selected one or more of the interviewees for their surveillance project, these women could be at significant risk. Multi-Party Computation (MPC) is a privacy enhancing technology that is being used in the financial sector to detect financial crimes. Privacy-preserving analysis allows computations to take place on the underlying data without the owner divulging the data. What if we could use the same technology to compare the data from the three NGOs and the police to determine if there were any duplicate names?

During the August Traffik Analysis Hub meeting, we will share the Romanian Integrated View Technology (RIVET) project vision, phases, partners, and status. The phases include knowledge discovery, privacy protection, data creation and cleaning, FAIR Principals and Standardization, Data Analysis, Data Modelling and Visualization and Expanded Data Sharing between multiple sources. Furthermore, we will discuss how RIVET will act as a use case to prove how we can share civil and police data to unlock the value of victim knowledge in a scalable and sustainable way.

The Traffik Analysis Hub Power of 10 project offers contributors a unique forum to share and analyze survivor-centered narrative data. Sustainable Rescue Foundation is participating in the second round to understand care providers’ data and their data sharing needs within the human trafficking digital ecosystem. We consider the Hub as a collaboration workspace that is an important link to standardization through the golden tags schema.

Sustainable Rescue Foundation is a strategic consulting firm. Our expertise is understanding best existing practices in digital data sharing across civil, private, and public sectors and applying it to human trafficking. The accepted global model to fight human trafficking is the 3P paradigm (Prevent, Protect, Prosecute). Our vision at Sustainable Rescue is to progress the 3P paradigm by acting as a catalyst to help anti-trafficking organizations expand past Partnerships to Pioneer and Predict through a collaborative data ecosystem.

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