Computer giant IBM Corp, financial services company Western Union Co and European police launched a project to share financial data which they said may, in future, be able to predict human trafficking before it occurs.
According to Ellen Wulfhorst of Thomson Reuters Foundation, the shared data hub will collect information on money moving around the world and compare it to known ways that traffickers move their illicit gains, highlighting red flags signaling potential trafficking, organisers said.
“We will build and aggregate that material, using IBM tools, into an understanding of hot spots and routes and trends,” said Neil Giles, a director at global anti-slavery group Stop the Traffik that is participating in the project.
Data collection, digital tools and modern technology are the latest weapons in the fight against human trafficking, estimated to be a $150 billion-a-year global business, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The U.N. has set a goal of 2030 for ending forced labour and modern slavery worldwide, with more than 40 million people estimated to be enslaved around the world. Certain patterns and suspicious activity might trigger a block of a transaction or an investigation into possible forced labour or sex slavery, organisers said.
The project will utilise IBM’s Internet cloud services as well as artificial intelligence and machine learning to compare data and to spot specific trafficking terms, said Sophia Tu, director of IBM Corporate Citizenship. With a large volume of high-quality data, the hub one day may predict trafficking before it happens, she added.