Busting Crime with Your Phone

Way back in the 1800s, some brilliant folks in Europe came up with the idea of using fingerprints to bust criminals. They realized that those unique little swirls and patterns on our fingertips could be used to pinpoint who had been where and touched what. Not long after, the good old U.S.A. jumped on the look-to-the-prints bandwagon, and by 1971 our FBI was nabbing baddies with some 200 million fingerprints it had on file.

Now in 2016, some smart people have come up with a new sort of pattern that they think can be used to foil the criminally minded, specifically those involved with the vile crime of human sex trafficking. Their pattern of choice? Your hotel room.

I’m serious. There’s a new app developed by a Washington University researcher called “TraffickCam” that allows travelers to upload pictures of any hotel room they visit around the world to a central internet-connected database. The photos then can be matched against a police database and used to determine where traffickers are perpetrating their evil deeds.

“You just enter your hotel room, and your room number. You take four pictures, and you submit them to the website,” TraffickCam developer Abby Stylianou told Fox 2 News in St. Louis. “And then those become part of the pipeline that law enforcement can use to track down where the victims are being trafficked. … 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.”

If keeping track of every hotel room in the world seems like a daunting task, well, think of what the fingerprint collecting idea might have looked like back in the 1890s. Today we’ve got the ever-connected and ever-watching internet to speed up the process.

By the way, the free TraffickCam app can be picked up for both iOS and Android devices. You can get it and aid in the war against human trafficking with just a few quick smartphone clicks in your next hotel room. Hey you probably will take more pics than that while standing in line in the lobby.

Who wrote this?

Bob Hoose is a senior associate editor for Plugged In, a producer/writer for Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey, a writer of plays and musicals and one-half of the former comedy/drama duo Custer & Hoose. He is a husband, father of three and a relatively new granddad.

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