Liberty Asia uses cutting-edge tech to fight modern-day slavery
Life is tough on Thailand’s notorious ghost fishing fleets.
Fleeing persecution in Myanmar and Cambodia to seek refuge in Thailand, desperate migrants are trafficked through Thai ports where some are sold to boat captains for a few hundred dollars per head.
These modern-day slaves are then held captive – often for years at a time – on Thai fishing boats, where they are forced to work long hours and endure shocking conditions.
That’s just one example of the many cases of human slavery that remain a major global problem as we move well into the 21st century. Sex trafficking, forced labour and child exploitation are issues prevalent all over the world today.
The Walk Free Foundation estimates that around 45.8 million people are currently trapped in modern slavery. It’s a growing industry that the International Labour Organization believes generates around US$150 billion in profits per year.
Those are numbers that didn’t sit well with Duncan Jepson, founder of Liberty Asia. He embarked on a mission to facilitate better communication and collaboration between NGOs across Asia. Jepson believed that if NGOs communicated better with each other, they could jointly find solutions to common problems.
The result was Liberty Asia, a start-up that aims to provide front-line NGOs with case management technology and data insights to fight human trafficking.
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Today, Liberty Asia connects 24 contributing NGOs, has collected 1,610 trafficker names for processing, and has empowered 5,200 financial institutions to screen for name matches of profiled traffickers.
That’s been made possible through Liberty Asia’s partnership with Salesforce.org. Liberty Asia is using Salesforce technology to build a powerful community of NGO collaborators in the fight against human trafficking.
Together, the two organisations have built a cloud-based victim case management system (VCMS) and data collection app designed to facilitate the sharing of information, expertise, data, and best practices with anti-trafficking stakeholders.
The app enables front-line NGOs to store, share and analyse client data such as names and ages of victims. It also collects data about where and when they were abducted and the movement of victims across borders.
“Prior to Liberty Asia, many NGOs had poor record keeping and database management practices,” says Jepson. “Victim data was recorded on Excel spreadsheets or on paper. This made records vulnerable to raids and offered no real analytics functionality.”
The cloud-based app, which protects victim data with industry-leading Salesforce security measures, gives agents complete visibility into their territories. This helps them keep track of individuals as they cross multiple borders.
Salesforce analytics also enables NGOs to better track patterns of human trafficking and identify high-risk territories.
A momentum for change
Beyond front-line NGOs, Jepson says that the private sector is another key stakeholder in developing an anti-slavery global network. Accordingly, the app gathers and channels intelligence on slavery to the private sector, and provides data to help focus preventive and rescue efforts for victims.
New features designed in partnership with Salesforce Asia (all delivered through staff’s pro bono allowance) has helped pinpoint hotspots of activity so law enforcement agencies and the private sector can act to identify and eliminate suppliers associated with human trafficking from their supply chains.
Liberty Asia also conducts research on significant incidences of trafficking in Asia. This is then presented to potential compliance and banking officials that are associated with investments in the region, to encourage them to enact change.
Jepson believes that giving private sector companies access to a sophisticated global anti-slavery information network is key to disrupting the flow of money generated by forced labour and human trafficking practices.
“It’s about finding better ways to gather and disseminate information so companies can make better decisions and really change their behaviour,” says Jepson.
“Our overriding objective is to create a better system where victims don’t fall through the cracks.”