ECSU awarded $342,076 grant to develop imaging technology to track and combat sex trafficking – Elizabeth City State University

George Mason University grant establishes new partnership with Fayetteville State University and the North Carolina Advocacy Alliance to address the human trafficking industry

A new grant awarded to Elizabeth City State University (ECSU), in collaboration with Fayetteville State University (FSU) and the North Carolina Advocacy Alliance, will develop technology that analyzes data and trends related to sex trafficking . The two-year project totaling $342,076 for ECSU was received from a partnership with the Center for Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis (CINA), a multidisciplinary academic consortium led by George Mason University and funded by the Department of Homeland Security. The initiative aims to create solutions to the human trafficking epidemic that victimizes more than 25 million people worldwide. According to the US Department of Homeland Security’s Center to Counter Trafficking in Persons, nearly 20% of that number includes victims of sex trafficking, while the other 80% represent victims of forced labor.

Shyamal Das PhD ECSUShyamal Das, Ph.D., ECSU Professor of Homeland Security and Sociology, is the Principal Investigator for the grant along with Sambit Bhattacharya, Ph.D., Professor of Computer Science at Fayetteville State University and co-investigator major. The goal of the research is to provide a software architecture for cross-model extension that includes viable machine learning models and algorithms. The team will carry out its monitoring based on the framework of next-generation web-based software detection technologies and will incorporate two modes into the proposed architecture: image and text surveillance.

“The novel approach will combine my work as a social scientist with that of Dr. Bhattacharya, a computer scientist, as well as an industry expert, and use cross-model detection to curb this zero-tolerance industry that impacts the lives of families.” says Das. “Our goal is to develop an architectural model for web-based technologies that can be used in the future. We hope to combine artificial intelligence and algorithms, as most sex trafficking exchanges start online through internet exchanges and on the dark web.”

Das notes that the initiative will help law enforcement to identify perpetrators and targets, thus creating a safer country. “The potential social impact of this technology is great: it will save lives, especially young girls and boys, who are often targeted by sex traffickers. This could have a powerful influence on our society and shape future research that can be used to help other agencies, such as the Law Enforcement Training Center (LETC), Border Protection, Immigration and Security, and solve other challenges. that affect the health, safety and well-being of our communities,” he said.

“Recently, Dr. Das collaborated with Dr. Bhattacharya on a prestigious undergraduate research fellowship awarded by the University of North Carolina System which will bring a new course titled, Integration of data science into homeland security (HMLS), to ECSU and support a joint project between ECSU and FSU. Dr. Das’ research is at the forefront of integrating data analysis and computer algorithms to address important national security issues involving our minority students in the security sector,” said Annemarie Delgado, Director of Sponsored Programs, ECSU Contracts and Grants.



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