Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $323,000)
The requested funding will support the partnership of Ohio University, the Cuyahoga Regional Human Trafficking Task Force (HT Task Force), and the Traffik Analysis Hub (TAHub) in the design of a Decision Support System (DSS) that police officers can utilize in the planning and deployment of anti-human trafficking operations. The HT Task Force needs analytical data that can be used in investigation and in a court of law. Specifically, the objectives of this project are to: 1) Analyze and improve human trafficking data collection, visualization, and deployment. This project aims at identifying relevant data. Visualization tools will allow police enforcement to process and analyze large amounts of data. This project will expand on the ongoing collaboration between Ohio University and TAHub to improve the quality and presentation of data, using the HT Task Force as pilot. 2) Investigate the relationships between illicit transactions and human trafficking to enhance prosecution. The HT Task Force recognized that human traffickers leverage the internet, internet transactions, and digital currencies to facilitate their crimes. Tracing, flagging, and geolocating illicit transactions and sex trafficking activity can provide the nexus between these activities and facilitate prosecution. 3) Produce analytical models that inform law enforcement of courses of action to fight human trafficking. Network Interdiction Models have been successfully utilized in the fight against drug and arms trafficking. With support from software capabilities and data from TAHub, Ohio University will adapt these models to the unique characteristics of human trafficking.