This app, ECPAT, seeks to curb child sex trafficking by empowering hotel management and staff members with the ability to report suspicious activities through a simple and easy-to-use user interface. Reports made by staff members must be approved by hotel management, who can then choose to send the reports to law enforcement.
This hierarchal system requires ECPAT to have different functions available for the different parties involved: the staff members, managers and law enforcement. The app’s system administrators have the power to create accounts by producing a unique ID. This prevents just “anyone” from using the app by restricting registration to a select group of people.
Managers and law enforcement have special privileges that are not available to staff members. Staff members can make reports, but they must be approved by management. Management can review the reports and choose which ones to send to law enforcement. Law enforcement can then view these reports, choose to act on them, and store them in a database.
While ECPAT provides a short-term solution to a difficult and complex problem by giving people the ability to report on sex trafficking-related activity, ECPAT also records its users’ data in order to study patterns that may be useful for law enforcement and other crime-fighting organizations in the long term. Pertinent information such as a user’s age, name, sex, workplace and occupation are stored in a database connected with the app. With the help of ECPAT, the aforementioned parties can gather data and organize them in ways that might help prevent and curb the prevalence of child sex trafficking. For example, these parties can determine which hotels and workers are the most active or inactive reporters, what user profile is more likely or less likely to make a report, what locations should be scrutinized for this type of criminal activity, and what time of day the activity is most likely and least likely to occur.
Goals & Objectives
The primary goals and objectives of the mPathy Project’s child sex trafficking prevention app include:
- Reducing the prevalence of child sex trafficking by facilitating the reporting process through an easy-to-use and discreet user interface.
- Providing law enforcement useful data and information about child sex trafficking and the people involved in the business.
- Bolstering a hotel’s reputation as a “sex-trafficking-free” zone.
According to globalcenturion.org, there are 14 global hubs of demand for human sex trafficking:
- Super Bowl & Sporting Events Across North America
- Las Vegas, Nevada & Legalized Prostitution
- The Carribean
- The Netherlands
- Middle Eastern & Gulf States
- South Africa
- Indian Brothels
- Sri Lanka
Human sex trafficking is a global problem. Its large scope will affect the design of the mPathy app, because it needs to be understood by all of its users.
Further research was conducted in order to find out what languages the intended userbase (workers in the hospitality industry) primarily speak. According to the University of Delaware, the two most common languages spoken in the hospitality industry include English and Spanish.
ECPAT needs to be simple and easy to navigate. Essential features include:
- A registration system that separates users in management, employee and law enforcement positions. A user must be given a unique ID that is provided by ECPAT. The ID holds information such as a user’s workplace and occupation. (For example, the first 3 digits indicate one’s workplace, and the last 3 digits indicate their occupation.)
- An anonymous form that is quick and easy to fill out. It should include the user’s location, which is automatically determined using his or her device’s location detection feature. The user should also be able to include additional notes, such as “The suspects are in room 431” or “They appear to be carrying weapons.” Next, the user should fill in a checklist of suspicious activities. The user also has the option to share photos or sound recordings. Once submitted, the form goes to either an employee’s manager, or, in the manager’s case, law enforcement.
- A manager or law enforcement official should be able to look through and review all of the reports he or she has received.
Layout & Coding methods
ECPAT should also be available in several languages, including English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Chinese, German and Arabic. This assures that the app reaches a wide audience, because child sex trafficking is a global problem.
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