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Specialist Shares Three New Tech Tools Used to Combat Child Trafficking

Timothy Ballard, CEO, Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.)

Non-profit organizations, law enforcement agencies worldwide and even private industries are increasingly researching and funding technological innovations to disrupt and stem the global epidemic of human trafficking.

Worldwide, 2.4 million people are human trafficking victims at any given time, according to a 2012 United Nations report. Eighty percent of them are children and women sold into sexual slavery.

“These technological innovations allow us to attack the problem from many angles, from raising awareness and decreasing tolerance to actually identifying and locating traffickers and their customers,” says Timothy Ballard, CEO of Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), (, a non-profit organization that specializes in rescuing children held by traffickers around the world and arranging for their captors’ arrests by local law enforcement agencies.

O.U.R. was created Jan. 1 under the auspices of North American Child Rescue Association. As of early April 2014, its volunteer Jump Team members had rescued 35 children in child trafficking stings in Nicaragua, Haiti and other locations not disclosed because of ongoing operations. O.U.R.’s efforts this year have already resulted in more than a dozen arrests.

Ballard details some of the tools currently used, or planned for use, by the O.U.R:
• Child Protection System software: Developed specifically to help locate and capture child predators, the software pinpoints on a world map, in real time, whenever child rape videos are shared. Operators can monitor the frequency of sharing, identify certain types of files on the computers to identify those actually abusing the children, and zoom in to pinpoint the location. O.U.R. is working to distribute it cost free to governments that do not have this or similar software.

• Google Glass: People wearing Google’s new computer eyewear can, among many other things, shoot hands-free video and photos and share the recording. O.U.R. member Jesse Stay, founder of Commerce Futurists, is donating his Google Glass for O.U.R’s next few missions so a team member can record the rescues as they occur. O.U.R. hopes to eventually have deeper support from Google for this use.

• Mobile Cause: This fundraising and mobile marketing platform allows non-profits to raise money and receive recurring donations through Mobile Pledging, which enables donors to donate when the impulse strikes them. It expands on “Text to Give,” the platform that was launched during the Haiti disaster and prompted mass donations in gifts of $5 or $10. Mobile Cause allows for donations of any size, and donors can share donations by posting to Facebook or Twitter from their phone. Non-profits can also share their missions and effectiveness to prospective donors through messages and videos. Mobile Cause charges no transaction fees. Donors to O.U.R. can text: ‘save’ to 41444 to give any amount using a credit or debit card.

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