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Stopping human trafficking in its tracks: How one woman’s brave idea turned into a movement

 “People often ask what there to gain from this. I respond that there is no money involved in solving this issue. We only have our humanity to gain."

Skye Hart is talking about the worldwide human trafficking crisis. Reports say the illegal industry is worth a staggering $150 billion dollars a year. What’s perhaps even more shocking than that, are recent statistics indicating that there are more than 40.3 million victims worldwide, but less than 9,000 convictions.

When Skye read an article in the New York Times last November claiming that tech companies weren’t doing nearly enough in this space, the 23 year-old Solution Engineer found that she agreed. She had been with Oracle only a few months, having just graduated from Syracuse University that summer. But that didn’t matter. Because Skye had an idea.

“I saw an app that pilots were using. They simply take a picture of their hotel room and upload it, and then compare it to databases of exploited images. I was like huh… what happens next? Why just pilots? Why not truck drivers? And border patrol, and law enforcement?

Almost immediately, Skye was thinking of ways to connect these dots and make the most of data sources that, until then, had been kept woefully separate. Putting emerging technology to work in this way became her sole focus. What kept her motivated?

“Hearing survivor stories. Seeing real-life cases of human trafficking. Seeing the endless faces of children that are still missing. These are all the things that push you to try harder and keep aiming for more progress.”

Through conversations with private investigators, law enforcement, and nonprofits, Skye’s team were able to identify a number of problems that were preventing victims being found—chief among them, the lack of centralized data sources and real-time insight.

“The data was out there. And thanks to Oracle, the technology was out there. What we needed was a plan to align the two. It started with a concept demonstration that brought together facial recognition, geospatial mapping, and natural language processing to identify victims and track patterns of trafficking rings. Now, it’s a movement.”

What Skye is referring to, is Oracle’s fully integrated solution that provides a more advanced set of capabilities than ever before. It uses our Autonomous Database to pull together all manner of real-time data—from camera feeds, social media, image recognition, geospatial analytics, and personal information provided by victims’ families—all into one consolidated platform. It means law enforcement can get a bird’s eye view of the entirety of an investigation, and interact with data visualizations that provide insights into a victim’s whereabouts. It’s a monumental step forward.

Given Skye’s pivotal contribution to this worldwide issue, it’s hard to believe that she originally felt intimidated by the idea of working in the technology sector—until she joined Oracle. “As a woman joining Corporate America, especially tech, I felt like I had to prove myself. In the back of my mind I went in thinking, ‘they aren’t going to take you seriously’. But I couldn’t have been more wrong,” she emphasizes.

“This project has inspired an outrageous amount of support at every level, from both men and women. Oracle supported my vision at every turn, which has given me confidence in myself and my career. For that, I am eternally grateful.”

Skye remains steadfastly modest throughout the telling of her story. “I don’t know if it’s my place to be giving career advice, as I only just jumpstarted my career seven months ago,” she quips. But she doesn’t leave us empty-handed; she finishes by offering up this nugget, which is made all the more poignant given that it’s Women’s History Month:

“I’ll tell you what inspires me. The world's first computer programmer was a woman: Ada Lovelace. This isn’t a new realm for us; we have just been silenced. It’s 2020: If you have an idea, speak up. You will be surprised at who will listen.”

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Comments ( 4 )
  • Candace Simpson Sunday, March 15, 2020
    This is GREAT work!
  • John Santaferraro Monday, March 23, 2020
    Where can I get more information about Skye's project? I didn't see a link in the article.
  • Laszlo Somogyi Friday, August 28, 2020
    brilliant thoughts! my sincere admiration and respect!
  • Craig Rea Monday, August 31, 2020
    Amazing story - really impressive how Skye took the initiative.
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