TraffickCam: Uploading Images Of Your Hotel Room Can Help Fight Human Trafficking

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A new application called TraffickCam is around, asking travelers to take pictures of their hotel rooms and uploading them anonymously to help law enforcement catch human traffickers who advertise on the internet.

Hotel Room PicturesThe uploaded images will be shared with law enforcement to identify properties facilitated it human trafficking cases, target offenders and help the victims.

It is a well known fact that hotels in all parts of the world are being used as a place of business to solicit prostitution other shady business. Not all individuals involved in this do it voluntarily as many are victims of pimps and human traffickers.

A group of researchers came up with the idea to create an application that allows travelers to upload their hotel rooms including specific features such as furniture, rugs and drapes to create a database that allows law enforcement to run a comparative search against pictures that circulate online on classified pages and explicit sites which offer prostitution services.

The application is called TraffickCam and you can access their website here.

Fox News 4 in Kansas City (access here) has a news report about this new tool.

The TraffickCam app enables travelers to submit pictures of hotel rooms around the world. The images are matched against a national database used by police.

“You just enter your hotel room, and your room number. You take four pictures, and you submit them to the website,” Washington University Researcher and TraffickCam developer Abby Stylianou said. “And then those become part of the pipeline that law enforcement can use to track down where the victims are being trafficked.” Stylianou was among the speakers at a Human Trafficking Town Hall at Maritz Tuesday.

“Right now there are pictures posted every day. Hundreds of pictures, in every city around the United States, posted online, that show victims of trafficking, in hotel rooms posed on beds,” she said.

Hotel photos submitted by travelers will allow police to query the database to determine where the pictures of victims were taken.

The TraffickCam app enables travelers to submit pictures of hotel rooms around the world. The images are matched against a national database used by police.

This is a great idea and everything that helps reduce the amount of such trafficking cases is welcome and encouraged. However as the database is created and shared with law enforcement this obviously opens the door to a use beyond human trafficking. Authorities can use this information for all sorts of investigations and matches that involves a wide variety of criminal activity.

How does the app work?

“You just enter your hotel room, and your room number. You take four pictures, and you submit them to the website,” Washington University Researcher and TraffickCam developer Abby Stylianou said. “And then those become part of the pipeline that law enforcement can use to track down where the victims are being trafficked.”

Stylianou was among the speakers at a Human Trafficking Town Hall at Maritz Tuesday.

“Right now there are pictures posted every day. Hundreds of pictures, in every city around the United States, posted online, that show victims of trafficking, in hotel rooms posed on beds,” she said.

Hotel photos submitted by travelers will allow police to querry the database to determine where the pictures of victims were taken.

This must have been the typical ‘a-ha moment’ you sometimes have when you watch something and recognize a hotel room, lobby or lounge immediately due to typical signature interior that gives it away.

Conclusion

There is really no better group to help with this database than frequent travelers who stay in hotels every other night. My good guess is that especially mid range hotels in areas such as airports (in North America) and pretty much all type of hotels in South East Asia would be helpful as potential crime scenes in this field.

If you wish to participate in this then it’s very simple to follow the instructions on the website and do a few quick shots during your stay.

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