Our pivotal moment for developing TraffickCam came when we couldn’t identify a motel room. We connected the vice squad with our associates in that city, but it took three days to find the girl. That seemed way too long, given today’s technology.
Images in Database
Hotels in Database
TraffickCam allows anyone with a smartphone to fight sex trafficking when they travel by uploading photos of hotel rooms to a law enforcement database!
Sex traffickers regularly post photos of victims posed in hotel rooms in their online advertisements. In fact, 75% of underage sex trafficking victims said they had been advertised or sold online. (Thorn, 2015) Investigators can use these ads as evidence to find victims and prosecute perpetrators if they can determine where the photos were taken. This is where TraffickCam comes in.
Download Free TraffickCamp App
How TraffickCam Works
Photos uploaded to the free TraffickCam app are added to an enormous database of hotel room images. Federal, state and local law enforcement securely submit photos of hotel rooms used in the advertisement of sex trafficking victims to TraffickCam.
Features such as patterns in the carpeting, furniture, room accessories and window views are matched against the database of traveler images to provide law enforcement with a list of potential hotels where the photo may have been taken.
- TraffickCam is 85% accurate in identifying the correct hotel in the top 20 matches, according to early testing.
- More than 2.9 million photos of more than 250,000 hotels in every major metropolitan area of the U.S have been uploaded.
- More than 152,000 TraffickCam apps have been downloaded.
- Images that include people are rejected from the database.
- No personally identifying information is stored, other than the phone’s GPS location.
- The Washington University in St. Louis developers of TraffickCam, Dr. Robert Pless and research associate Abby Stylianou, research new ways to use images collected by smartphones and webcams.
- News of TraffickCam has generated more than 35 million Twitter impressions and has been shared countless times on Facebook.
- Hundreds of television stations and newspapers across the United States and around the world have reported about TraffickCam, including the Huffington Post, Washington Post, Fast Company, PBS Nova, AOL and more.