Could You Help a Human Trafficked Victim With the Push of an App on Your Smartphone? Yes.
You’re driving back from your favorite restaurant and it’s late at night. While passing through the downtown university district of the city, something catches your attention. The area is known for late night parties from frat houses and sororities as well as some adult clubs nothing uncommon for the area…but then you see her. You know she’s a prostitute by the way she is standing on that corner trying to solicit her services.
Something is unsettling in your conscience. This girl is way to young to be hanging on the streets at night. There is no way she’s in college. She looks no older than a freshman in high school…possibly younger. Then you watch as two shady gang members exit a vehicle and somewhat force her into another car. You even catch a glimpse of other scared girls in the back seat matching her age.
Some form of righteous indignation begins to burn in your soul as you realize this is a sex trafficking scenario happening right before your eyes. But what can I do, you think? Knowing a bit about the gang activity in the city, you discern these individuals are dangerous. What can you do? Before you can call the police, the cars speed off as quickly as they arrived. Guilt settles within the deep recesses of your conscience as you realize you could not do anything about the situation.
But what if you could…
What if with a simple push of an app on your smartphone you could have helped her? What if you were able to snap a photo of the girl, the vehicle, or even the gang members as they passed and could send this information directly to a police officer? What if this app would alert all forms of law enforcement of the human trafficking scenario occurring right that instant? What if this app would also alerted a series of nonprofit organizations within the area specializing in a range of rehabilitative services to place this victim upon rescue? What if this app could verify at least one of these nonprofits had a place for her to stay that night? Maybe short term? Maybe long term?
Like the Amber Alerts we receive through social media and text messages, Redlight Traffic’s smartphone app seeks to emulate this same viral response for human trafficking victims. “We empower victims to become abolitionists. We use technology to create tools against human trafficking” (Redlight Traffic a, 2015, n.p.).
Traveling to Redlight Traffic’s website, the user is immediately given the basic tools of knowledge to identify a trafficking situation and can read blog stories from real victims. What would happen if the majority of the American population was equipped with this knowledge? We could see a titanic reduction of victims. Let’s do some math!
In December of 2014, the United States of America’s population was totaled as 320,087,963 (United States Census Bureau, 2015). According to The Statistics Portal (2015) it is projected that 39.5% of the population uses/will use an iPhones from Apple. In that same group of statistics, 7.4% of smartphone users use Windows as their operating system (OS) (The Statistics Portal, 2015). Combined, Apple iPhone and Microsoft Windows smartphone users total at 46.9%. Of the population census from December of 2014 that’s 46.9% of the population or 150,121,254 people with the ability to report a potential human trafficking scenario taking place. That’s awesome!
With these projected numbers alone, almost half of the United States’ population will have the ability to become the eyes and ears of the community looking out for potential human trafficking situations. We become the digital neighborhood watch for our communities we care about.
Let us discuss the other side of the market: Android OS users. Android users account for about 50% of the remaining market. Just think about it: 96.9% of the United States population or 310,165,236 people could become active trafficking reporters. Just think of all the data that could be accumulated by police to rescue victims and provide prosecution of the traffickers.
“There is still very limited information on the scale of trafficking, how it works, and the most effective means to halt it. One of the biggest knowledge gaps lies in the area of data collection. Despite the growing literature on trafficking, relatively few studies are based on extensive research, and information on the actual numbers of people trafficked remains very sketchy” (Laczko, 2002, para. 3).
Real time data of human trafficked victim numbers, areas of high trafficking rates, and follow up studies on reduction are just a few examples of critical data missing from the antitrafficking solution. With the information gathered from this app alone, vital resources could be managed more efficiently in targeting higher rate areas and identifying which social services should be added in lacking areas. The plethora of data could be shared by law enforcement, nonprofits, and the community to even estimate where future trafficking crimes may take place. The application of this data is endless in what the antihuman trafficking movement could apply it to but more importantly, the antihuman trafficking movement will finally gain real time data on the problem domestically in the United States of America.
If you are an iPhone or Windows phone user, download this app and join the abolitionist movement to end domestic trafficking. If you are an Android user, help fund Redlight Traffic to continue in making development for this market come true.
Hodan, George. Message for You. http://www.publicdomainimages.net/view-image.php?image=31233&picture=message-for-you (accessed July 1, 2015)
Laczko, Frank. “Human Trafficking: The Need for Better Data.” Migration Information Source (2002). Accessed July 3, 2015. http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/human-trafficking-need-better-data
Redlight Traffic. “How It Works.” http://www.redlighttraffic.org/app/index.html (accessed June 27, 2015)
Redlight Traffic. “About: Our Mission.” http://www.redlighttraffic.org/about.html (accessed June 28, 2015)
The Statistics Portal. “U.S. Smartphone User Share from 2010 to 2014, by Operating System.” http://www.statista.com/statistics/201207/us-smartphone-user-share-since-2010-by-os/ (accessed June 28, 2015)
United States Census Bureau. “U.S. And World Population Clock.” http://www.census.gov/popclock/ (accessed June 1, 2015)