Research organisations and academia are compiling interesting evidence on human trafficking from every angle: perpetrators’ use of technology, victimology, and legislation/case law. Such research is readily available in papers, books, discussion forums and the website. How many organizations make a review of existing research and recommendations as part of their project plans? What would the impact of the recommendations be in the world outside the “ivy walls?” Can research be sustainable?
Sustainable research implies that academia should consider a new type of goal. Instead of rewarding the number of publications; what if goals were set to embed research content into trafficking knowledge centers and training programs? Currently, millions of dollars fund research grants with no pre-set goals of reuse in the real world that would elevate findings into sustainable research. What I find during my own long internet sessions are hidden gems of insight that I doubt ever find their way into police investigations, technology innovation, criminal courts or new policies. Consider The Technology and Human Trafficking Initiative from University of South California Annenberg Center on Communication and Leadership and Policy, which was related to study the current use and broader implementation of information and communication technologies in the international fight against human trafficking and modern slavery. Since their launch in 2010, they have produced a number of groundbreaking reports on how traffickers and anti-traffickers use technology in human slavery. For example, a recent report on the rise of mobile phones in trafficking was written from a series of interviews with law enforcement officials and an analysis of mobile phone data. The report urges policymakers, business leaders, law enforcement, and social service providers to develop innovative solutions to technology-facilitated trafficking. Have you seen it?
In a world where traffickers are always two steps ahead – how can research reveal blind spots and encourage innovation? Sustainable means constant improvement. Research means insights. Can Sustainable Research be a game-changer?