Representatives from the transportation, hospitality, and technology sectors convened at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to discuss how their industries were working to combat human trafficking. In her opening keynote, Ambassador Catherine Todd Bailey, Chair of the Department of Transportation Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking, discussed how human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise globally. In the U.S. alone, 17,000 victims per year are trafficked, even considering limited available data. She discussed how transportation hubs are primary conduits for human trafficking and stressed the importance of increasing awareness amongst stakeholders in the transportation sector; including drivers, flight attendants, customer service reps, security officials, and others. Coordination amongst transportation employees, policy advocates, and technology developers in the public and private sectors is critical to addressing this challenge.
In a panel of transportation sector members, representatives from UPS and the American Trucking Association discussed partnerships with the advocacy communities to create awareness of sex trafficking victims amongst truck drivers. A law enforcement representative from the Arizona Department of Transportation emphasized the need for awareness training and communication between law enforcement and industry. A panel of hotel industry representatives discussed awareness training development and advocacy efforts toward legislators. In the panel on technology applications, a rep from Thomson Reuters Special Services discussed the use of data analysis to identify potential victims at risk. Other tech reps discussed the evolving use of biometric data and image recognition to identify potential victims and perpetrators. A computer science professor from George Washington University discussed a project his team was working on to use artificial intelligence to match seemingly unidentifiable photos of victims to potential hotel/motel locations to be investigated.
This is a serious issue that requires advancing awareness among industry stakeholders and the application of new data, technology, and law enforcement tools. At transportation hubs in the interior of the U.S., at the border, and abroad, coordination amongst government and industry partners can help combat human trafficking.