Sharing a photo of your hotel room can help stop human trafficking. Here’s how.

The free app TraffickCam asks travelers to take pictures of their empty hotel rooms and upload them on the site. The goal is to create a database that can be used by authorities to locate human traffickers and their victims.

Hotel rooms are ideal locations for traffickers; they can move on a daily basis making it hard for them to be found. Traffickers also often take photos of their victims in hotel rooms to “advertize” them. With a database of empty hotel room photos, law enforcement will be able to identify the rooms where the pictures were taken by comparing patterns in carpeting or wallpaper, furniture, views from the windows, etc.

Download the app here and help end human trafficking.

Link – Snapping a Picture of Your Hotel Room Could Help Stop Human Trafficking

The TraffickCam app enables travelers to submit pictures of hotel rooms around the world. The images are matched against a national database used by police.

“You just enter your hotel room, and your room number. You take four pictures, and you submit them to the website,” Washington University Researcher and TraffickCam developer Abby Stylianou said. “And then those become part of the pipeline that law enforcement can use to track down where the victims are being trafficked.”

As a frequent hotel visitor, this is something I plan to take a look at. I have no idea how well it works, or how effective it is, but if something as simple as taking a few photos and uploading them can even potentially help, it may be worth it.

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You can help stop human trafficking with the TraffickCam app

In a world where the phrase “oh god, not another app” often springs to mind, along with “Yeah, yeah, I’m sure you want to make a world a better place” TraffickCam is a blast of icy-fresh air.

TraffickCam is an app developed by the Exchange Initiative, an organization fighting back against sex trafficking.

The goal of the new app is to build a national database of photos of the insides of hotel rooms to help law enforcement match images posted by sex traffickers to locations, in an effort to map out the routes and methods used by traffickers. The app will also be useful to help locate victims — and the people who put them in their predicament.

Available for both iOS and Android, the app is unlikely to win any design awards, but that isn’t the point, the app makers are solving a tremendous problem and any tools available to help resolve some of this will be welcomed with open arms by the organizations fighting the good fight.

Snapping a picture of your hotel room could help stop human trafficking

Posted: Jun 23, 2016 / 02:03 PM CDT / Updated: Jun 23, 2016 / 02:01 PM CDT

ST. LOUIS – Snapping a picture inside your hotel room could help protect children across the globe.

The TraffickCam app enables travelers to submit pictures of hotel rooms around the world. The images are matched against a national database used by police.

“You just enter your hotel room, and your room number. You take four pictures, and you submit them to the website,” Washington University Researcher and TraffickCam developer Abby Stylianou said. “And then those become part of the pipeline that law enforcement can use to track down where the victims are being trafficked.”

Stylianou was among the speakers at a Human Trafficking Town Hall at Maritz Tuesday.

“Right now there are pictures posted every day. Hundreds of pictures, in every city around the United States, posted online, that show victims of trafficking, in hotel rooms posed on beds,” she said.

Hotel photos submitted by travelers will allow police to querry the database to determine where the pictures of victims were taken.

TraffickCam now has more than 1.5 million images of hotels across the world, thanks to support from the public.

The idea for the app is merging of ideas between researchers at Washington University and the Exchange Initiative, a non-profit formed by Nix Conference and Meeting Management. A few years ago, police sought the help of Nix staff to identify the specific hotel where a victim was trafficked.

“It was a photo that they had from the internet,” Nix Principal Molly Hackett said. “One of the girls in our office knew exactly what it was.”

The Exchange Initiative created the app, which Hackett said is widely used by her staff. But use of the app isn’t limited to her line of work.

“It’s great that everyday citizens can do everyday things by taking a picture help stop sex trafficking,” Hackett added.

The internet has made it easier for criminals to engage in sex trafficking and child exploitation, Sgt. Adam Kavanaugh with St. Louis County Police said. Kavanaugh is the deputy commander of the Missouri Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

He said detectives are noticing an increase in younger victims.

“The average age, when we talk to our girls that we deal with, most of them have started at 13, 14 years old. And most of them have been sexually abused as children,” he said.

He said he is optimistic the new technological tool will make a difference.

“I think it’s going to be crucial to help us identify not only where they’re at now, but where they’ve been at. Which is something we need – that’s helps with prosecution.”

TraffickCam is free and available for iPhone, iPads, and Android devices.

A co-created data base of hotel rooms to stop human trafficking

Source: Traffickcam via Exchange Initiative

Taking photos of your hotel room can help stop human trafficking

By taking and uploading four pictures of their hotel room, TraffickCam users contribute to a database of hotel room photos that local law enforcement can use to identify the location of sex traffickers and victims.

The Exchange Initiative, an organisation that works to stop human trafficking, created TraffickCam because they couldn’t identify the motel room used in an online ad for sexual services by a sex-trafficking victim.

Due to their accessibility, privacy and affordability, hotels, hostels and motels have become the most common site for trafficking-related abuse. With TraffickCam, hotel guests can make a big difference with a small contribution. 3 million photos from 250.000 different hotels have been uploaded to the app. Based on an ad, TraffickCam generates 20 highpotential matches from which the correct room is identified with an 85%success rate.

Economic Growth

TraffickCam works to stop forced labour by providing law enforcement with a tool to stop human trafficking (8.7)

Gender Equality

TraffickCam helps victims of sex trafficking by locating sites of abuse (5.1, 5.2, 5.3)

Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

TraffickCam helps law enforcement stop trafficking-related crime (16.1, 16.2, 16.3)

5 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Sex Trafficking in Your Daily Life

Cover photo by Skyler from Iowa. Instagram: @skylervillemel

Fighting against sex trafficking can seem like fighting against the tide. No matter how determinedly you try, there’s no stopping something so big and so powerful, and every time you feel like you’ve achieved a small victory, a problem pops up somewhere else.

It’s the ultimate game of whack-a-mole, but the moles have been replaced by human lives, and the game is actually a global crisis.

Global sex trafficking is a huge problem, literally—it’s estimated that 4.8 million people around the world are coerced into the sex trafficking trade every year as part of a $99 billion industry, and the advent of digital marketplaces has made the identification of traffickers that much more difficult.

While there are plenty of awesome organizations around the world fighting sex trafficking, from governmental agencies to non-profits, it’s easy to wonder, “What can I do?”

It’s becoming more and more possible for regular people to play an active role in the fight against sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. New technological developments and classic on-the-ground action are both important, and we’ve put together a list of five ways that we can all be active participants in the global struggle to end sex trafficking.

1. Refuse to contribute to sexual exploitation with views or money

Porn is a risk factor that has been connected to heavy involvement in sex trafficking, it normalizes the actions trafficking victims are forced into, it desensitizes victims of sex trafficking to those actions, and it’s used as “advertising” by both pimps and traffickers. Clicking, downloading, or consuming videos and images sends the message that sexual entertainment is acceptable at the cost of sexual exploitation, and funds advertising dollars that in turn can fuel trafficking and exploitation.

But what about “mainstream” porn studios and porn sites—aren’t they completely separate from the sex trafficking issue? Great question, we’re glad you asked.

Not only that, but the bigger the porn industry, the more challenging it will be for performers to step out and speak out without backlash when they’ve been exploited and abused in the name of sexual entertainment. As of now, there is no formal system of support or reporting for those who have been forced, frauded, and coerced into shooting even one porn scene, and blacklisting outspoken performers is currently an informal industry standard.

Not clicking isn’t always easy, since porn is everywhere and so many people struggle, but it’s an action that we can all take, and it’s an action that matters.

2. Take pictures of your hotel room

How does snapping a quick shot of your suite help? Well, a large amount of sex trafficking happens in hotel rooms—photos are often taken of trafficking victims in the rooms, and advertised online to potential buyers. These photos also capture wallpaper, carpet patterns, furniture, and other features that can help identify the room in which the picture was taken.

Connecting the photos to the exact locations was near-impossible, until a group of planners and programmers developed an app called TraffickCam. Upload a photo of your room to the TraffickCam database, and an algorithm can then match it with the decor found in photos taken by suspected traffickers. That makes it easier for law enforcement to identify the location where the trafficking was taken place and track down the perpetrators.

You can download TraffickCam for iOS and Android. Getting started takes seconds, and taking a few photos whenever you’re in a hotel can make a meaningful difference for law enforcement in the fight against trafficking.

3. Learn to recognize red flags

Sex trafficking isn’t always far away. It happens around the world, but that also means it can take place in our own cities, towns, and neighborhoods, so learning to spot the warning signs can help you identify victims and report them to law enforcement—just look at this story about a flight attendant helping a victim of trafficking, or this taxi driver who saved a pregnant woman from being exploited, or an Uber driver who recognized the signs and reported trafficking to police. Because they listened to and observed what was going on around them, lives were saved.

Click here to learn more about how to report trafficking if you think you see something suspicious.

There are lots of red flags that can signal that a person is being trafficked. They can be fearful and anxious, unsure of where they are, seem to owe a large debt, show physical signs of abuse, and much more. Websites like the Polaris Project, Hope For Justice, Stop The Traffik, and the US Department of Health and Human Services all have extensive lists of red flags, and being familiar with them can help all of us identify and help trafficking victims even if we don’t anticipate encountering them.

4. Report trafficking-related activity

Read up on the facts of how to spot a trafficking victim or trafficker at the sites, linked above.

And if you think you’ve recognized a trafficker or a victim of trafficking, it’s important to notify the proper authorities as quickly as possible. You can call local law enforcement, or notify the National Human Trafficking Hotline 24 hours a day by calling 1-888-373-7888. The hotline has handled over 150,000 tips since 2007, and is the best way to activate a response that can rescue a victim or identify a trafficker. (More international numbers are listed below!)

5. Help educate others

Bringing others into the worldwide fight is an important part of fighting for the safety and security of victims of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. It can be as simple as a short conversation or the sharing of a website.

You can also print out these materials from the US Department of Health and Human Services, and share them with friends or family members to help them learn about the problem. The materials are available in multiple languages, and cover topics like sex trafficking, child exploitation, and social services.

Why this matters

The problem of sex trafficking will not go away on its own. This global issue will take a global community of Fighters to join together and fight against sexual exploitation by being part of the solution, not contributing to the demand.

It will take a global community that is willing to say “no” to consuming porn, and say “yes” to reporting any trafficking-related activity. And it won’t always be easy to fight, but it will always be worth it. Are you with us?

Watch the video: How to spot human trafficking. Kanani Titchen. TEDxGeorgeSchool

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