Our team is a mixture of analysts and technical developers who want to contribute to the fight against human trafficking. We were inspired by the various speakers and the recurring theme we heard from professionals and survivors - the challenge of victim identification and breaking the cycle of exploitation to eradicate human trafficking.
Children and teens are among the most vulnerable. Trafficked children go through extreme physical and psychological trauma and need dedicated resources to recover from the devastating experience. Victims struggle to recognize the human trafficking scenario they are in and there is an information gap between these vulnerable victims and the information and resources they need.
Our mission is to support trafficked children and teens in identification. Empower underage victims, specifically of sexual exploitation, to identify the dangerous situation they are in, and provide them with the resources to help get the assistance they need in a scalable way. This tool will aid social workers/ parents/ guardians in identifying trafficked children to end the cycle of abuse and get the necessary support to victims.
The name and dissemination by word of mouth, posters, and social media was inspired by the stories of the "Angel Shot" at risk individuals can order at bar to be assisted out of a dangerous situation.
What it does
Angel is a discreet, user friendly, web based, survey that victims fill out to assist in identifying dangerous trafficking situations. The survey, based on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) methodology “Hard to see, harder to count,” includes questions specifically designed to help trafficked children self-identify by guiding them through multiple prompts to determine if the user may be in a trafficking situation.
Once the user reaches the end of the survey, they are presented with 1) nationwide resources and/or state, and city-specific resources for getting help if the users choose to indicate more specific geo-location (e.g. their country, state, city), 2) an open-ended question designed to conduct a sentimental analysis to identify an emotional state the person is in.
What this will do is enable victims to realize the dangerous situation they are in, wherever they are. Currently, these questions are delivered by an advocate or social worker when they are able to actually reach a child. But with this tool, a child can take the quiz from their phone or computer, anywhere in the United States.
How I built it
We leveraged Typeform’s (a SaaS form builder) logic flows and existing translations to get us started in translating the ILO’s framework into a consumable format for young individuals. We then built it into a React app that gave us the ability to take the form information, run further analysis, and present it in an actionable way.
The React app is backed by a Python Flask app that handles some heavy lifting like running sentiment analysis on a block of text and searching a store of emergency contacts for ones relevant to a user’s provided general location.
Challenges I ran into
Our team struggled to come up with a solution that will make an impact in such a short period of time. Because this is such a serious issue, we wanted to make sure this tool would be useful to victims of human trafficking. In addition, being remote provided an extra layer of challenge as meetings and communication were not direct.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
However, we are proud that we were able to use this time productively to build a prototype that could be used by practitioners in the United States to address some of the challenges of stopping modern day slavery. We worked well together as a team and utilized each other’s networks to consult SME’s who work in the field to get feedback which was impressive to pull off in such a short period of time.
What I learned
Some members of the team had a strong background regarding the subject of human trafficking and others had a stronger technical background. It was a great opportunity to work so closely together, so both sides could learn and overcome challenges together.
What's next for Angel
- Improve the survey question model & sentiment analysis integration with the help from professionals who have field experience working directly with victims of human trafficking and have knowledge of the language they use
- Connect with organizations that help victims and survivors to figure out where this informations can flow into
- Collect a database of resources victims can be provided with, based on the user’s specific geolocation (if provided) & specific situation (entity analysis of free text responses)
- Connect the live chat function to the National Human Trafficking Hotline
- Deploy QR codes on posters/ stickers/ advertisements in order to more easily and discreetly disseminate this information in areas where victims of human trafficking are known to physically gather.