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Saturday, 08 September 2018 21:10

Splunk equips Global Emancipation Network in the fight against human trafficking

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Non-profit anti-trafficking organisation, the Global Emancipation Network, or GEN, has launched a new Splunk-powered technology platform aimed at fighting the evils of human slavery through data analytics.

The evils of human trafficking cannot be under-estimated. While to any civilised person it is incomprehensible how anyone could ever seek to enslave another, the reality is around 21 million women, men and children are trafficked annually in a US$150 billion “business.”

Yet, as incomprehensible and as inconceivable as the atrocities committed by human against human are, there is some relief in knowing organisations like GEN exist, and that technologists can contribute their time and skills to this work to bring about good in the world.

This week GEN introduced Minerva, a human trafficking investigation platform to facilitate collaboration across public, private and non-profit agencies around the globe.

Minerva is powered by the big data aggregator and analytics platform, Splunk, receiving software and support under the Splunk4Good program, and Splunk’s 2016 pledge to donate US$100 million over 10 years for research, education and non-profits.

Specifically, Minerva uses advanced data analytics and intelligence to aid local and federal law enforcement, government agencies, non-profits, commercial organisations and academic institutions with counter-trafficking missions to host and explore millions of trafficking-related data records and use customised search, alerting, geolocation and other capabilities, all in the fight against exploitation.

“My life mission and that of Global Emancipation Network is to completely eradicate human trafficking with a weapon not yet used properly in the fight: data and analytics,” said Sherrie Caltagirone, founder and executive director, Global Emancipation Network.

“By arming law enforcement and its allies with newly-accessible critical information, we are going to disrupt this heinous multi-billion dollar black market industry which affects millions of lives. Thank you to Splunk for its endless support of our mission through technology, community and collaboration.”

These capabilities include:

  1. advertisement analysis –  Analyses advertisements from the deep and open web, where most trafficking cases originate and extracts data such as user, location, account and other identifying information;
  2. image processing tools – processes images of victims to reduce the time users spend analysing photographs and manually linking them to advertisements. Minerva integrates image analysis tools to tag photographs with characteristics to expedite database search, and reverse image search to identify similar images;
  3. text analysis tools and natural language processing – extracts text in images from advertisements and flags correlations with missing person reports and other valuable information; and
  4. multi-tenant system informing trend analysis – allows all Minerva users to store their information securely on the same database at the same time, enabling secure, multi-agency collaboration on shared investigations.

Minerva protects case-sensitive information and monitors usage patterns, ensuring the security and privacy of its data.

“The Global Emancipation Network is a powerful example of how, through the power of data, we can solve the world’s most complex and notoriously opaque problems,” said Doug Merritt, president and chief executive, Splunk. “[It] is making a worldwide impact, and Splunk is proud to support their efforts to eradicate human trafficking through technology.”

Minerva is free of charge to qualified organisations with valid human trafficking investigation programs.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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