AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Numbers show at any given time in Texas, there are 234,000 victims of labor trafficking and 79,000 victims of youth and minor sex trafficking.
Allies Against Slavery, a group that works to fight human trafficking, built a cloud-based platform called Lighthouse that launched earlier this year to try to compile data in a way where Texans can visualize the magnitude of the issue, study the causes and identify solutions. Homeless and runaway youth shelters, community clinics and groups that work in juvenile justice facilities are among the agencies that can subscribe to the platform. They can enter information related to the care of their clients and create profiles.
“What had become clear to us through our work in the field with dozens of partners all across the state was this challenge, both in rapidly seeing and understanding the experiences their clients were having so they could know whether they were working with a victim of sex trafficking, but then how to adequately capture that information that they were documenting securely and easily that they could share with their team so that the followup and care coordination process was effective,” John Nehme, President and CEO of Allies Against Slavery, said.
The Austin-based non-profit organization has also received a grant from the governor’s office to launch the Lighthouse Data Initiative. Nehme says it’s a statewide effort to collect and analyze human trafficking data.
“The current landscape of information on human trafficking is really fragmented,” he said. “We have bits and pieces of these stories around what’s happening in different parts of the state, but we really need a comprehensive place to proactively get out in front of traffickers and disrupt that exploitation.”
The organization says the platform will collect and compare information from local, regional and national sources to paint a clearer picture of what trafficking looks like in Texas.
“We’re really trying to resource stakeholders in the field – frontline professionals as well as those who are working on systematic change, policymaking and research as well,” Nehme said.
The group hopes the information produced can help the state further build data-driven solutions to human trafficking.