App allows human trafficking cases to be reported


Photo courtesy of Lisa Mercer

Portrait of Lisa Mercer.

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

A new app has been developed by a University professor where users can report suspected human trafficking cases.

Lisa Mercer, assistant professor in FAA, founded Operation Compass, a nonprofit organization, to provide the app as well as educate the public on how to identify signs of human trafficking.

Mercer said in an email the app allows users to report an instance of human trafficking using the date, time and location through location services. Users can choose to remain anonymous and submit any details or information they may know about a case.

Mercer is currently working to expand her pilot program, Operation Compass North Texas, in Illinois.  

There are an estimated 21 million cases of human trafficking worldwide, according to Polaris, the organization in charge of the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

Dallas-Fort Worth has one of the highest numbers of human trafficking victims in the world, and Mercer found many people don’t identify as victims.

“(Human trafficking) can happen to anyone anywhere at anytime,” Mercer said.

Mercer said she hopes the app could be used more extensively on campus, especially if law enforcement is not around to handle a situation.

Mosaic Family Services, the Dallas organization that helps victims of human trafficking, partnered with Mercer to receive all reports made through the app. Operation Compass also has connections with the Dallas Police Department for tips and suspicions.

So far, the app has been downloaded on over 1,700 different phones and launched nearly 3,400 times.  

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