Research

Data and Measurement Programme

How many slaves exist in the world, and where are they?

 

Our Data and Measurement Programme is asking: how many slaves are there in the world, and where are they? In order to tackle modern slavery, we need to know how many people are enslaved and where they are. Robust measurement and analysis give the antislavery movement credibility, confidence and the foundations from which to build effective action: governments need to be able to measure slavery prevalence in order to design and resource appropriate policy responses; an accurate understanding of the location and prevalence of slavery can help NGOs plan more effective programmes on the ground; businesses benefit from understanding slavery prevalence linked to particular commodities.

 

In the Rights Lab’s Data and Measurement Programme, geographers, political scientists, sociologists, mathematicians and business systems specialists have made globally recognised advances in measuring the risk and prevalence of modern slavery. As part of that work, our Slavery from Space initiative is the first use of geospatial observation to map and measure slavery. Using new machine-learning techniques and citizen science, the team has uncovered sites and industries with high levels of slavery. We now estimate that more of a third of the world’s slavery—40 million people—is visible from space. This work with satellite imagery has also generated new data on the relationship between slavery and eco-systems. Demonstrating the slavery footprint on our environment, we have calculated for the first time the environmental costs of slavery and the environmental gains of ending it.

 

For example, we have joined with the United Nations University’s Delta 8.7 project and other partners to launch Code 8.7 at the UN headquarters. This global network is using computational science and AI to tackle modern slavery. As part of Code 8.7, we are now bringing together multiple partners to deliver a Global Antislavery Observatory: close-to-real time mapping of slavery sites via geospatial observation and other non-standard, novel data streams. Working with data providers, imagery analysts and AI experts, the Observatory is harnessing the value of satellite data for antislavery action. We can analyse satellite imagery and find and predict the locations of high-prevalence industries and hotspots.


Programme experts

Doreen Boyd

Doreen Boyd

Description
Rights Lab Associate Director: Data and Measurement Programme
James Goulding

James Goulding

Description
Rights Lab Assistant Professor in Business Analytics
Giles Foody

Giles Foody

Description
Rights Lab Professor of Geographical Information Science
Jessica Sparks

Jessica Sparks

Description
Rights Lab Research Fellow in Antislavery Ecosystems
Lax Chan

Lax Chan

Description
Rights Lab Research Fellow in Antislavery Data Analytics
Chris Ives

Chris Ives

Description
Rights Lab Assistant Professor of Environment and Society
Bertrand Perrat

Bertrand Perrat

Description
Rights Lab Assistant Professor in Business Analytics
Ioannis Kougkoulos

Ioannis Kougkoulos

Description
Rights Lab Research Fellow in Antislavery Remote Sensing
Meryem Duygun

Meryem Duygun

Description
Rights Lab Professor of Banking and Finance
Bethany Jackson

Bethany Jackson

Description
Rights Lab PhD Student in Geography
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