BlueHack Pasos Libres

Sebastián Arévalo Sánchez , Colombia

The BlueHack Pasos Libres came about as a collaboration between Colombian Ambassadors following the One Young World Summit 2017 Bogotá. Sebastián is the CEO of Fundación Pasos Libres, an organisation that protects the rights of human trafficking victims and prevents young people from being trafficked. Together with IBM employee and fellow One Young World Ambassador Jesus Tabares, Sebastián coordinated a 36 hour long hackathon to develop innovative solutions using technology to prevent human trafficking.

The hackathon brought together students, professionals, NGOs, companies and international organisations with a passion for helping victims of human trafficking. More than 200 people applied to take part, of which 88 young people were selected. Mentors with technical expertise came from Colombia, Brazil, Argentina and the United States to aid the teams in their challenges. All participants were given training on how to use the IBM Cloud by IBM and were educated about human trafficking by Fundación Pasos Libres and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

After the hackathon, the winning team signed a contract with the UNODC to further develop their proposed solution. Made up of five students of Systems Engineering from the Universidad de los Andes, the winning team designed FIND, a technological and social ecosystem of several tools to identify potential human trafficking victims in a collaborative manner. FIND integrates different sources of information to detect demographic and behavioural profiles of potential victims. One of the FIND’s tools will constantly analyse job ads that could potentially be used to attract victims. Thanks to the contract with UNODC and the advice from Fundación Pasos Libres and IBM, FIND will be actively operating in Colombia in the near future. The team that placed second travelled to Ecuador to present their idea at the Latin American Congress on Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants in November 2018. BlueHack Pasos Libres gained substantial coverage, being featured in 13 stories on newspaper, radio and online platforms and gaining 170,000 impressions on Twitter during the event itself.

Following the success of BlueHack Pasos Libres, IBM has agreed to support Sebastián and his team to organise a second version of the event in Colombia in 2019, with the model being replicated in the United States.