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Data and human trafficking: Innovation isn’t always about a shiny new toy

Katherine Manuel  Senior Vice President, Innovation, Thomson Reuters

Katherine Manuel  Senior Vice President, Innovation, Thomson Reuters

Innovation is a buzzword. It’s everywhere; on ads, at conferences, thrown around in boardrooms and “hashtagged” on blogs. Innovation generally conjures up fun, sexy images: the next iteration of the iPhone, driverless cars, hover boards. While the latest gadget is always a cool new addition to the consumer market, innovation can be about critical problem solving, attacking some of our greatest threats. Infographic shows how data can help stop human trafficking.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Human trafficking is a serious global threat and a crime against humanity. It involves a complex ecosystem of recruitment, transport, and harboring. Many of the victims are women and children who are recruited and sold for sex. Recent statistics show that 4.5 million people globally are forced into sexual exploitation all over the world.

I am especially proud of the work we do in this area at Thomson Reuters, where we put the heft of our innovation capability towards connecting our content and technology, partnering with government, law enforcement and not-for-profit organizations to eliminate this threat. From thwarting recruitment efforts to finding and recovering victims, we work to combat every phase of this dangerous cycle. Our cross-enterprise efforts are highlighted below:

  • Thomson Reuters Special Services has been partnering with the U.S. intelligence services and other government agencies to investigate human trafficking and other deviant behavior at large events. In fact, at Superbowl XLVIII, our capabilities led to the recovery of nine victims.
  • The Thomson Reuters Foundation trains and provides a forum for journalists to report stories of human trafficking worldwide. Through events like Trust Women and programs like TrustLaw, the Foundation empowers a network of people to deliver solutions, innovations.
  • Our Data Innovation Labs show the power of data and computer science to empower real answers. Through events such as in #HackTrafficking4Good with Demand Abolition or  Science Against Slavery Hackathon with Open Data Science; or, encouraging other people to join the effort through presentations about Using Data to Combat Sex Trafficking at Ignite Data – Boston / the power of innovation abounds.
  • Thomson Reuters Third Party Risk Proposition, a preeminent leader in the 3rd Party Risk space, just announced that it will lead the development of the first global platform on slavery in the supply chain. It will expand and connect internal and external datasets on slavery, leveraging existing technology capabilities, to better address human trafficking risks.

I am very proud of the work that we do as an organization to help solve problems and find answers to the most pressing challenges we face globally. Operating in over 100 countries, we are truly a global corporate citizen and human trafficking impacts every region. Using our intelligence, technology and human expertise to empower social innovation is a small, but tremendously meaningful part of what we do. I have hope that in the future, this will no longer be a threat to humanity.

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