The Intersection of Transportation and Human Trafficking

Guest Blogger: Christi Wigle, Co-Founder and CEO
United Against Slavery, the first-ever recipient of the U.S. Department of Transportation Impact Award

Sustainable Rescue Foundation is proud to be an Oversight Agency of the National Outreach Survey for Transportation on behalf of Victim Services in the Netherlands.

The global transportation industry and its associated infrastructure are the lifeblood of economic, social, and cultural growth around the world. Airlines, railroads, motorways, and the internet have connected us to a greater degree than at any other time in our history, enabling us to trade goods, exchange ideas, distribute humanitarian aid, and provide opportunity to millions of people every year. Unfortunately, the scope and scale of the industry also present significant challenges to government regulation and law enforcement, which human traffickers exploit to hide their criminal activities in plain sight.

The staggering number of movements across the globe, whether within a country, across borders, or online, make interdiction of trafficking nearly impossible without a data-driven predictive analysis to guide how governments allocate resources and energy in the space. That analysis requires comprehensive frontline data collected from across the transportation industry, as well as from sex and labor trafficking survivors and direct victim service providers; data that until now, has not been available to the counter-trafficking community.

United Against Slavery spent six years developing a Collaborative Research Model and a comprehensive frontline data collection methodology and repository to collect, maintain, and publish human trafficking data. Our initial threads of effort included Pilot Studies in 2016 and 2018.

In early 2020, we launched the National Outreach Survey for Flight Attendants. Two of the largest Unions for Flight Attendants became a UAS Oversight Agency (OA) and distributed a custom survey link to their members. This data collected not only offered proof of our concept but also provided a treasure trove of information from frontline transportation workers, which clearly outlined challenges that the aviation industry continues to address.

In 2021, United Against Slavery created the National Outreach Survey (NOS) to produce open-source data in over 20 sectors for the benefit of research, programming, evaluation, and other needs of the anti-human trafficking community. Data collection occurred in the United States and around the globe. It is time that we stop and listen to each other in an anonymized way and then collaboratively work together to implement positive long-lasting changes in making data-driven decisions.

We believe the NOS is a missing research tool to support counter-trafficking efforts. With the National Outreach Survey, United Against Slavery will:

• Collect comprehensive frontline data not yet accessible in the anti-trafficking space
• Launch an open-source data platform for research dissemination and analytics while providing anonymity to respondents
• Release robust statistics required to identify best practices and effectively combat sex and labor trafficking on a national and international scale
• Repeat the NOS every two to three years to measure benchmarks and progress in the anti-trafficking movement

The survey team is now working diligently to code and clean the data from more than 4,000 respondents, including more than 3,000 columns of data to prepare the data for analysis. We look forward to making the data available to each Overarching Agency and to the public-at-large. We want this frontline data to help make a difference not only in counter trafficking work, but most importantly to make a difference for victims and survivors.

Visit the website to learn more about United Against Slavery and become a part of disrupting the trafficking cycle of transportation.

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