You have a smartphone, don’t you? And you travel, whether for vacation or business, don’t you? Sweet! Do you know that a simple action of snapping four pictures inside your hotel room could help fight sex trafficking?
This, my friends, is my version of Responsible Tourism, Version 2.0.
TraffickCam is an United States-based, free anti-trafficking smartphone application, which enables travelers to help in the fight against sex trafficking.
This application was developed by the social action organization Exchange Initiative and researchers at Washington University. Exchange Initiative provides resources, information and networking solutions to combat sex trafficking in the U.S.
From the photos uploaded, TraffickCam creates a database of hotel room images that law enforcement and investigators can efficiently search.
Internet-based sex trafficking works as such that sex traffickers post photos of victims in hotel rooms in their online advertisements. Having a database of photos help investigators to find victims, and to prosecute these perpetrators.
A smartphone is a prerequisite, as the phone GPS location is necessary to verify the location of the hotel. This also means that you need to upload these photos at the hotel location itself. TraffickCam does not store any personally information other than the phone’s GPS location. Please also ensure that there are no images of people in the photos; these images are rejected from the database.
Having experienced the submission few weeks ago, all you need to do is taking photos of your hotel rooms (and indicate your room number) and upload them to the database via the app.
You can submit up to four photos per submission. They recommend taking two pictures of the entire room from different locations, one picture of the bed from the foot of the bed, and one picture of the bathroom from the doorway. Features such as patterns in the carpeting, furniture, room accessories and window views are matched against the database.
Naysayers might dismiss this app as taking shot in the dark … but I disagree with it. Why not?
I reached out to TraffickCam to check whether they require submissions outside the United States. And they replied “At this point in time, we are only working with law enforcement within the United States. We may, however, expand our reach in the future to work with law enforcement around the globe. To that end, the TraffickCam application has been built to support submissions from around the world.”
Please, when you are on vacation, or a business trip, please take pictures of your hotel room, and submit images to the database.
A simple act to do good in the world .. why not?
Help fight sex trafficking!