Instead of snapping photos of your hotel room to post on SnapChat, you should upload them to the TraffickCam app which helps police departments track where sex trafficking victims are being sent to work. TraffickCam developer Abby Stylianou told Fox 2 Now how the app works for both travelers and victims:
“You just enter your hotel room, and your room number. You take four pictures, and you submit them to the website. And then those become part of the pipeline that law enforcement can use to track down where the victims are being trafficked.”
Since the app has been launched, Stylianou noted that users have been uploading pictures every day. “Right now there are pictures posted every day. Hundreds of pictures, in every city around the United States, posted online, that show victims of trafficking, in hotel rooms posed on beds.”
Fox 2 Now reports, TraffickCam currently has 1.5 million images of hotel rooms from around the world. The app was created by Stylianou’s colleagues at Washington University and the Exchange Initiative, a non-profit that was formed by Nix Conference and Meeting Management. The idea for users to upload photos of hotel rooms stemmed from a particular incident where police offers sought Nix staff members to help them with an investigation. During their investigation, police were able to locate a victim because a Nix staff member recognized the hotel room the victim was in.
Because of the app’s profound help, detectives are saving victims who are pre-teens and younger than the average sex trafficking victims. Sergeant Adam Kavanaugh who works at the St. Louis County Police Department also shared that most of the victims have been sexually abused as children. Kavanaugh also noted that with an app like TraffickCam on the market, detectives and prosecutors, alike, will be more effective when punishing sex traffickers. “I think it’s going to be crucial to help us identify not only where they’re at now, but where they’ve been at. Which is something we need – that helps with prosecution.”