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Ulula receives ILO award supporting innovation to end child labor, forced labor and human trafficking

Written by Ulula

November 18, 2021

We are thrilled to announce that Ulula is a winner of the International Labour Organization (ILO) SDG 8.7 Innovation Challenge for our AI tracker for child labor, forced labor and human trafficking prediction!

“We are very honored to receive this award which puts the spotlight on the potential of bottom-up approaches to data collection and artificial intelligence to help end child labor, forced labor and human trafficking. Ulula’s AI tracker aims to contribute to reducing modern slavery incidence in the Democratic Republic of Congo where over 1 million people are estimated to live in modern slavery.”

– Antoine Heuty, CEO of Ulula

The Challenge

The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched a competition calling for innovators to create Digital Information Systems for collaborative work to end child labor, forced labor and human trafficking, thus accelerating action towards SDG Target 8.7. The challenge focuses on solutions for Alliance 8.7 pathfinder countries, although proposals were accepted from all over the world.

Ulula’s Solution

Ulula’s winning proposal is an AI tracker for child labor, forced labor and human trafficking prediction to be piloted in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Building on previously developed mobile-based impact monitoring solutions in collaboration with IPIS, Matokeo and Kufatilia, this platform will monitor and predict labour and human rights violations in clients’ operations enabling them to rapidly identify where remediation steps may be required to improve the working conditions in diverse regions of the world. One of the key features of this AI platform will be its ability to adapt to localized conditions and nuances across different geographies by initially training the AI model on data from the DRC to predict indicators including child labor, forced labor, human trafficking among others as required.

The solution builds upon Ulula’s existing multi-channel surveying system where questionnaires are designed to identify and measure forced labour, child labour, human trafficking through key risks indicators such as freedom of movement, debt bondage, etc. in different geographical settings and can be adapted to the violations encountered in diverse sectors including mining, manufacturing, agribusiness and construction. Offering multiple communication channels allows Ulula to reach and survey a broad range of population with varying levels of literacy and technology access, including Voice (IVR), SMS, OTT (e.g. WhatsApp), and Web. Workers and communities even with a non-smart/feature phone can take these surveys at no cost to them making it accessible to the last mile. All communications adhere to strict digital and data security standards and protocols.

What makes it unique

The ability to co-design surveys with grassroots organizations and partners to identify and measure KPIs at risk ensures they are locally adapted, contextually relevant and accurate. Second, the data directly collected from actual workers and community members in the target communities and regions (meaning primary stakeholders) form the basis of the primary dataset used to train the model.

Read the official announcement of the SDG 8.7 Challenge winners from ILO here.

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