IBM Assists in the Fight Against Human Trafficking

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Bridging public, private and not-for-profit sectors worldwide, IBM makes technology such as Watson Discovery and Natural Language Processing available to help fight human trafficking

IBM today announced that Watson Discovery and Natural Language Processing technology, along with IBM public cloud technology, is now being used by public, private and not-for-profit organizations as they collaborate to disrupt human trafficking.

Sometimes called "modern slavery," human trafficking is a lucrative crime that exploits vulnerable people. Beginning today, stakeholders fighting this scourge have access to a powerful, new technology resource called Traffik Analysis Hub (TA Hub), co-created by IBM and donated to a consortium of public, private, and not for profit organizations, led by STOP THE TRAFFIK (STT), a non-governmental organization (NGO).

TA Hub, which runs on IBM public cloud, was developed on a pro bono basis and features technology donated by IBM. The system enables authorized organizations, such as financial service companies, NGOs and law enforcement agencies, to collaborate systematically, on a continuous basis. They can now securely share and analyze data to connect seemingly unrelated clues that confirm and pinpoint suspected criminal activity. Organizations that have signed on to the Traffik Analysis Hub can potentially gain insights and context they may not have been able to easily obtain on their own.

Because trafficking activity transcends borders and industries, it requires substantial coordination to address. To that end, the TA Hub allows authorized members to collect, securely share and analyze data in the cloud. There, non-personal data related to human trafficking is uploaded and transformed into actionable intelligence. Initial TA Hub participants include Barclays, Europol, Liberty Shared, Love Justice International, and Western Union.

In the TA Hub, which provides a substantial repository of trafficking-related metadata sets, AI augments human intelligence. Analysts collate and analyze data, then apply technology like Watson Discovery and Natural Language Processing to highlight patterns of data that trace possible trafficking activity. The technology can, for example, correlate suspicious financial transactions with publicly reported incidents related to suspected trafficking activity. This technology approach will help: NGOs educate communities to prevent recruitment and to rescue and reintegrate survivors; law enforcement agencies, to pursue perpetrators; policy makers, to formulate smarter regulations; financial institutions, to identify and freeze criminally obtained proceeds; and businesses, to ensure supply chains are free from exploitation.

"We're optimistic that technologies such as AI can be an important part of improving the lives of so many people," said Guillermo Miranda, Global Head of IBM Corporate Social Responsibility. "What's also key here is the collaboration of public, private and not-for-profit sectors -- addressing the issue together. They're telling us that the shared knowledge and intelligence from the Traffik Analysis Hub will enable them to make real progress in addressing human trafficking."

Modern slavery is estimated to be a $150 billion global industry, trapping an estimated 40.3 million people worldwide and more profitable than illegal drugs or white collar crime, according to the International Labor Organization. Traffickers depend on cheap or forced labor for agriculture, prostitution, hospitality and manufacturing. Organizers lure vulnerable people to work under harsh conditions for inadequate pay. 

In September 2019, at the European Data Science Awards, the Traffik Analysis Hub project won for the category "Innovative Use of AI for Social Impact."

For more information about the Traffik Analysis Hub, please visit

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