October 2, 2018

WPI researchers granted $145k to attack human trafficking networks

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WPI professors Renata Konrad and Andrew Trapp.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute is using a $145,000 grant to help researchers explore how analytical tools can be used to attack human trafficking networks.

The National Science Foundation grant will help a team in the Foisie Business School research how analytics can detect the supply chains sustaining such networks.

Renata Konrad, an associate professor in the business school, along with fellow WPI professor Andrew Trapp and professors from other institutions and criminal justice experts will study border control and transit center interception data to identify key aspects of labor and sex trafficking networks from the perspective of traffickers and victims themselves, according to WPI.

The group will then analyze similarities and differences with traditional supply chain networks using data analysis and operational tools.

Researchers hope the results of their research can help anti-trafficking agencies better prioritize their limited resources.

"Human trafficking is a critical problem throughout the world," Konrad said. "While trafficking activity is supported by illicit supply chains that are hidden from sight and not well understood, we believe we can use operations research and data analytics tools to detect these supply chains and thus help disrupt the trafficking networks."

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