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Thailand uses big data to fight human trafficking

23 October 2012 | Mahesh Punyamurthula , Worldwide Industry Technology Strategist

​The International Labour Organization estimates that nearly 21 million people, three out of every 1,000 people worldwide are working in forced labor. In 90 percent of these cases, exploitation comes at the hands of individuals or private enterprises, many of which use human trafficking to trap victims.

Now, some governments are turning to big data solutions to help address this global crisis. For example, my esteemed colleague Joel Cherkis, GM for Worldwide Government and Security, recently discussed how Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations (DSI) is using big data to dramatically accelerate and improve the accuracy of its investigations into criminal cases, including human trafficking. He explains:

The DSI was formed to investigate serious and sophisticated criminal activity, including transnational crimes such as human trafficking. As part of these functions, the DSI collects massive volumes of data—both in structured and unstructured formats such as images, videos, and documents. Analyzing these large and diverse data sets was proving to be a challenge for the DSI…. In response, the DSI sought out better BI and data-mining tools to reduce complex and manual processes and establish a system that could automatically notify personnel of suspicious persons or activities related to criminal cases.” (Thai law enforcement taps into big data for investigations)

Joel’s analysis of the case study shows how DSI is using Microsoft SQL Server 2012 along with Apache Hadoop software to import, analyze and store huge volumes of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources. The resulting efficiencies have been astounding for the public safety agency, generating results that would have taken two years using the previous data gathering and analysis process in as little as 15 days.

I encourage you to visit both the case study and Joel’s excellent assessment of the unique benefits that the Thai government has realized through this solution, and I look forward to sharing more success stories from real-life governments and organizations using big data to improve global safety.


Mahesh Punyamurthula
Worldwide Industry Technology Strategist

Microsoft on Safety and Defense Blog

About the Author

Mahesh Punyamurthula | Worldwide Industry Technology Strategist

Mahesh Punyamurthula has 17+ years of evangelism, architecture, and software development experience with Microsoft platforms and technologies. He has also managed technical relationships with several global safety and defense partners.