techUK is pleased to be part of Tech Against Trafficking, a new global initiative which has officially launched. The initiative brings together the tech sector, academics and NGOs to look at how technology solutions can be used to fight modern slavery and we are very excited and honoured to be able to participate in the initiative.
From empowering NGOs working with vulnerable communities to increasing supply chain transparency, tracking and pursuing offenders or supporting victims, tech and digital tools have a large and varied role to play in fighting this growing crime type. Around the world today there are over 40 million people who are believed to be in some form of slavery, with 13,000 victims in the UK, generating $150 billion in illegal profits every year.
Tech Against Trafficking follows on from a Wilton Park Conference last year and we’re pleased that sustainability organisation BSR will act as Secretariat with the RESPECT Initiative leading on research. The organisation which includes BT, Nokia as Microsoft as founding members has started the first major project which is to map out the various trafficking and modern slavery initiatives already underway.
The precise strategy over the next few years is still being refined, but the specific tech tools that have been identified as having the biggest potential so far include:
- Cloud and mobile apps to allow first-line responders, the public, and vulnerable workers to raise awareness, access resources, and report concerns, among many other solutions.
- Basic hardware, such as laptops and smartphones, to be made more easily available by technology providers to NGOs supporting vulnerable groups and victims.
- National helplines that raise awareness, support victims, and serve as hubs of data collection; analysis of existing information; and sharing to advance our understanding of and response to slavery.
- Data tools to deal with the problem of data overload that can disable effective responses and to identify connections in the data that would otherwise be missed (e.g. using AI and big data).
- Supply chain transparency tools to improve traceability and transparency of supply chain labour standards.
techUK CEO Julian David said “Innovation, technology and digital solutions can play a huge role in tackling global challenges. The Tech Against Trafficking initiative will showcase how digital can be deployed to combat modern slavery. Blockchain solutions for example can help companies know what is happening in their supply chains or verify safe migration routes. Big data analytics can also identify bottlenecks in trafficking routes, and even basic IT can help in supporting NGOs on the ground who are helping those affected directly. techUK is sitting in the Advisory Group and I urge as many members as possible to get involved and look at how we can harness the collective innovation of the UK tech sector to help end modern slavery and human trafficking.”
Tech Against Trafficking is a membership structure with a global focus and we are very keen to hear from techUK members or others who have solutions that can be applied to this area. Please email craig.melson@techUK.org for more information or if you would like to get involved.