Mapping the problems
Caption: Freedom DataMap is a collaborative mapping project to gather information about human trafficking and efforts to achieve freedom from slavery globally.
Though it is Saturday, work does not stop at Survivors Connect. Today my colleague Jessica Woodard and are working with the Ushahidi SWAT team to do some beta testing of their v. 2.2 Juba platform. Ushahidi is an organization that specializes in developing open-source tools for information collection and interactive mapping. We have used the Ushahidi platform to crowdsource and map information about the anti-trafficking movement. For example, back in 2010, we launched our first version of the Freedom Datamap, which is an installation of Ushahidi that maps information about where anti-trafficking organizations work, what they specialize in, and how to reach them.
This project started all because of a question we’re often asked - “Is there an anti-trafficking organization in my town?” There are hundreds of organizations out there, but not any one individual knows them all. We figured out that with the Ushahidi platform, we could ask people to assist in building a pseudo “global database” of organizations by sending us direct emails, tweeting, or submitting to our site.
Freedom Datamap aggregates this information, alongside news, blogs, photos and videos relating to existing resources all on this interactive map. Now we can geo-spatially visualize where efforts are concentrated, as well as areas that still need support. We have over 500 reports of organizations working globally on the problem, from small grassroots organizations to large international non governmental organizations. We have mapped out hotline resources, shelters, advocacy initiatives as well as news reports of major cases of human trafficking. Through this exercise, we're hoping to identify not only where organizations work, but discover gaps in critical services in the areas of prevention, prosecution and protection of victims and survivors.
We’re still learning quite a great from this project and hope to publish a report this year. In this testing exercise, we are also considering upgrading our platform to the 2.2 Juba version when it’s ready, which will give us far greater functionality and a better user experience. Our first version of the Freedom Datamap was a password-protected site, since we wanted to limit the user base to activists. Soon, we will do a fully-public launch. SC has also partnered with other organizations to use Ushahidi – for example, we launched iSpot Fair Trade in partnership with the Fair Trade Resource Network to map where fair trade goods are sold in the US and Canada. We’re also doing datamapping of legal resources in Africa, integration of Ushahidi with our SMS data collection projects and more. Stay tuned for more!