BANGKOK, February 12, 2018 -- Freeland, the counter-trafficking group has announced today they are joining forces with IBM to create a new state-of-the art analytics hub that will transform how data is processed and used to help tackle human and wildlife trafficking.
The Analytical Center of Excellence (“ACE”) was launched this week by Freeland, with technical assistance via the IBM Impact Grants program, to facilitate the flow of advanced open-source data analysis to government agencies responsible for protecting people and wildlife from criminal traffickers.
Together, human and wildlife trafficking generates up to $USD 170 billion a year for ruthless criminal syndicates operating across all borders. Southeast Asia’s poorest people and prized wildlife remain highly vulnerable to exploitation by global traffickers.
For two decades, Freeland has provided training and analytical support to over 4,700 officers across Southeast Asia to help them identify and dismantle illicit trafficking supply chains. The collaboration led to improved capacity of select member state agencies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that racked up record arrests and criminal asset seizures. In Thailand, powered by Freeland’s use of IBM’s i2 intelligence analysis software, some of these successes included:
Department of Special Investigation’s dismantlement of cross-border sex trafficking ring
Royal Thai police identification of corrupt links in the Rohingya trafficking supply chain
AMLO’s seizure of over $USD 37 million of assets from a tiger trafficking syndicate
However, the economic power of black market traffickers continues to circumvent
enforcement in parts of the ASEAN region and threaten impoverished communities and endangered species.
“We value, but are not satisfied with, incremental progress against trafficking syndicates,” said Steven Galster, Founder of Freeland. “Trafficking generates huge profits that these syndicates will protect at all costs, so the counter-trafficking community has to make transformational changes in order to catch up and win. In a data-driven era, being able to process information exponentially faster and more skillfully is our transformational opportunity. That is what our technology partnership with IBM offers: the chance to outpace the traffickers by providing critical leads and analysis that help lawmakers and enforcers save lives.”
Through its Impact Grants program, IBM is donating i2 intelligence analysis software, which are leading tools used by law enforcement, intelligence agencies and in the private sector to help uncover criminal networks. IBM i2 intelligence analysis software will enable Freeland analysts to use capabilities like network analysis and find path to reveal relationships that help identify human and wildlife trafficking networks, and disseminate results to regional agencies to pursue arrests. IBM is also donating the expertise of its staff to transfer skills to Freeland’s specialist analytics team in Thailand. Freeland plans to customize the training for a wide range of local law enforcement agencies, and roll out an automated data and insight sharing program to multiple civil society groups and stakeholders. The aim is to rapidly improve the accessibility of actionable intelligence to all involved in the common fight against trafficking in the region.
The new analytics hub has implications beyond enforcement. A new analytics program will inform behavior change campaigns that work to reduce demand and to intercept and deter purchase of trafficking related products or services. Data analysis will also help map current trafficking trends and hot spots to help lawmakers create stronger regulations where they are needed most. Freeland will soon sign an agreement with the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) to share ACE-generated analysis on trafficking to help improve policies and laws in the region. Freeland also plans to expand the reach of ACE to other continents.
With organized crime gangs continuing to exploit vulnerable people and endangered species for profit, such strategic partnerships are critical to working towards a world that is free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery.