Originally published by BSR on June 30, 2021.
Last week, Tech Against Trafficking launched its second Accelerator program, welcoming Seattle Against Slavery and Unseen UK into the community. Both organizations have shown exceptional innovation and potential in their deployment of technology solutions, and this investment in support and expertise by Tech Against Trafficking member companies aims to exponentially accelerate their respective impact over the coming years.
Launched in 2019, the Tech Against Trafficking Accelerator Program aims to identify promising uses of technology in the anti-trafficking field, harnessing the expertise and resources of member companies to advance and scale the work of organizations deploying technology that assists victims, law enforcement, business, and civil society.
For nine months, selected organizations work with member companies—Amazon, BT, Microsoft, and Salesforce—to advance and scale their technology solutions. The rigorous selection process evaluates the impact, scalability, sustainability, interoperability, and effectiveness of the participants’ initiatives and brings them in to help address key technological challenges or barriers that may prevent them from scaling their work efficiently and effectively.
Looking Back: The Success of the First Accelerator Program
The 2021 program comes on the heels of the inaugural Accelerator with the Counter Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC), completed in 2020. Together, CTDC and the Tech Against Trafficking members:
1) Developed a new, innovative privacy-preserving solution that allows for access to more data, more accurate data, and the means to analyze it more deeply than otherwise possible, without compromising confidentiality;
2) Addressed data inconsistencies across the field through a new data standard for human trafficking and accompanying guidance for the implementation of the standard.
Looking Ahead: Introducing the 2021 Accelerator Cohort
The Tech Against Trafficking selection process for the 2021 cohort sought to build on our initial investment in privacy-preserving mechanisms and best practices related to data standardization by identifying anti-trafficking organizations that can leverage these advancements in pursuit of their unique objectives. Seattle Against Slavery and Unseen were chosen in part for their ability to meet this criterion, in addition to bringing new opportunities related to the use of technology to combat trafficking that can benefit the anti-trafficking field as a whole.
Over the course of the second Accelerator, Seattle Against Slavery, Unseen UK, and Tech Against Trafficking members and advisors will work with participating organizations on a number of different focus areas, ranging from the optimization of data infrastructure systems to the evaluation and innovation of sustainable business models for technology products and platforms.
Seattle Against Slavery is an organization dedicated to combatting labor and sex trafficking through education, technology, and justice and accountability among men. They’ve built Freedom Signal, an online platform to help advocates develop ongoing relationships with potential victims of online sex trafficking or sexual exploitation through texting. With an ever-increasing number of victims identified and supported, Seattle Against Slavery has demonstrated impressive reach and impact. Seattle Against Slavery will be focusing on both technical and organizational workstreams during the accelerator.
“Through helping us tackle some of the biggest and most challenging questions in the anti-trafficking technology world, the Tech Against Trafficking Accelerator has our organization energized to develop new solutions and partnerships to address online commercial sexual exploitation,” said Liz Rush, Director of Technology at Seattle Against Slavery.
Unseen UK is an organization dedicated to eradicating modern slavery. It runs the Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline and Resource Centre, as well as the Unseen App, both of which provide victims and the public with access to information and support on issues related to human trafficking and exploitation on a 24/7 basis. Over the course of the Accelerator, Unseen will work with Tech Against Trafficking member companies to develop a technology roadmap for translating data collected from the helpline into actionable trends and insights that will benefit the entire anti-trafficking space.
Justine Currell, Executive Director at Unseen UK explained:
“We are delighted to have been chosen as one of the partners to benefit from the experience, tools, and skills afforded through Tech Against Trafficking. Developing our technological capabilities to better educate the public, law enforcement, and businesses—and reach more potential victims to get them the help they need through the Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline—is invaluable.
Technology is the key to providing enhanced services to potential victims, understanding emerging trends and links between cases, and maximizing the data collated through the Helpline to raise awareness of risk areas and inform prevention activities. We are extremely excited to see the real difference we can make to those who are being abused and exploited through our collaboration with Tech Against Trafficking’s Accelerator Program.”
Tech Against Trafficking looks forward to sharing the outcomes of the Accelerator with the broader anti-trafficking community in Spring 2022. To be the first to hear about the outcomes of this initiative, and hear about future opportunities, contact us.