How Big Data is Fighting Human Trafficking

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6 min read

Human trafficking is the third largest crime industry in the world today. India has an estimated 18.3 million slaves, according to the Global Slavery Index, and every year 200,000 Indian children are tricked, kidnapped, or coerced into slavery. Every three minutes, a girl is sold into slavery. The average age of these girls is 12 years old, with children as young as six trafficked for sexual exploitation, and less than one percent of them are ever rescued. Public awareness is the most effective barrier to human trafficking, and MapR is proud to be part of the big data analytics solution, developed by Quantium for My Choices Foundation, to help alleviate one of the world’s worst social problems.

While many organizations work to rescue girls and prosecute the traffickers, Operation Red Alert, a program of My Choices Foundation, is a prevention program designed to help parents, teachers, village leaders, and children understand how the traffickers work, so they can block their efforts. Poor village girls are typically targeted, with promises that the girls are being offered wonderful opportunities for an education, jobs, or marriage. But with over 600,000 villages in India, Operation Red Alert needed help to determine which areas were most at risk to prioritize their education efforts.

Watch the video 'Red Alert Saves Lives.'

As a pro bono project, the Australian analytics firm Quantium developed a big data solution, which runs on Cisco UCS infrastructure and uses the MapR Data Platform. The solution analyzes India’s census data, government education data, and other sources for factors such as drought, poverty level, proximity to transportation stations, educational opportunities, population, and distance to police stations, so as to identify the villages and towns that are most at risk of human trafficking.

Elca Grobler, the founder of My Choices Foundation, explains the significance of this work: “The general Indian public is still largely unaware that trafficking exists, and most parents have no idea that their children are actually being sold into slavery. That’s why grassroots awareness and education at the village level is so important to ending the human traffic trade.”

Operation Red Alert

With a vision to end sex trafficking in India by preventing girls from ever entering it, Operation Red Alert began its efforts in 2014 by conducting research on root causes and by building relationships with long-standing non-government organizations (NGOs) in the field. Working with Quantium, they analyzed data while constantly refining and iterating to define a model that could identify villages most at risk. Red Alert now has 40 NGO partners, who have helped conduct the Safe Village education program in 600 villages throughout four states in India, reaching over 600,000 villagers. Red Alert also created India’s first national anti-trafficking helpline and is conducting mass media awareness campaigns.

As Grobler explains, “We are helping to banish human trafficking, one village at a time, through a combination of highly sophisticated technology and grassroots Safe Village education implemented through our NGO partners. The national helpline gives villagers a link to continual support, and with 95 million mobile phones in India that gives us a very broad reach. We’re also adding data and refining our predictive analytics, and we’re expanding our education efforts to cover more states this year.”

MapR Technology Behind the Scenes

Quantium brings together proprietary data, technology, and innovative data scientists to enable the development of groundbreaking analytical applications and develops insights into consumer needs, behaviors, and media consumption by analyzing consumer transaction data. Quantium upgraded its legacy server platform with Cisco UCS to gain centralized management and the computing power needed to process complex algorithms in a dense, scalable form factor that also reduces power consumption. Cisco Nexus 9000 Switches provide a simplified network with the scalable bandwidth to meet their current and future requirements. The MapR Data Platform makes this enterprise possible by enabling organizations to create intelligent applications that fully integrate analytics with operational processes in real time.

Rigorous testing by Quantium demonstrated that the MapR-Cisco platform decreased query processing time by 92%, a performance increase of 12.5 times the legacy platform. With the Cisco-MapR solution, Quantium’s data scientists can design complex queries that run against multi-terabyte data sets and get more accurate results in minutes, rather than hours or days. In addition, the more powerful platform drives innovation because scientists can shorten development time by testing alternative scenarios quickly and accurately.

“UCS gives us the agility that’s key to supporting our iterative approach to analytics,” explains Simon Reid, Group Executive for Technology at Quantium. “For example, with the analytics for Operation Red Alert, we’re fine-tuning the algorithm, adding more hypothesis and more granular data to improve our predictive capabilities. MapR adds performance security and the ability to segregate multiple data sets from multiple data partners for Operation Red Alert.” MapR is proud that the unique multi-tenancy and high-speed performance and scale of the MapR Platform serves as the underlying technology to power the Operation Red Alert data platform.

Additional Resources

Read: MapR's News - Big Data Analytics Solution Helps India Nonprofit Organization "My Choices Foundation" in Efforts to Prevent Human Trafficking Read: Cisco's Blog - 'Big Data Saves Lives' Learn more about: My Choices Foundation and Operation Red Alert Read: Operation Red Alert Impact Report Read: Quantium case study
View: Cisco Quantium video

View: Operation Red Alert video Learn more about: Cisco UCS Learn more about: Cisco Data Center and Virtualization

This blog post was published May 30, 2017.