Eyes in the sky: online "mappers" track child slavery in Ghana
By Kieran Guilbert
DAKAR, Oct 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Sitting in the office at his home in Washington, 67-year-old graduate student Patrick Brown spends hours searching for boats and buildings on a satellite photograph as part of an online project to combat child slavery in Ghana's vast Lake Volta.
Brown is one of thousands of volunteer "mappers" around the world laying down digital markers in an attempt to establish the extent of child trafficking in the fishing industry across one of the world's biggest man-made lakes.
Crowdsourcing project Tomnod is working with the public-private partnership The Global Fund to End Slavery to produce accurate and public data - which could be used by activists, campaigners and the government to clamp down on trafficking.
"Child slavery is an abomination to mankind, and I will do anything I can to expose the scum that practise it," said Brown, who spends his time tagging a map of the lake when not working towards his online communications and leadership degree.
More than 20,000 children are forced into slavery on Lake Volta, the International Labour Organization estimates.
They work 19-hour days and carry out dangerous tasks which leave many disabled, disfigured or even dead, campaigners say.
Yet the size of the lake, 8,500 square kilometres (3,280 sq miles), makes it difficult to map from the ground and provide an exact figure of the number of child slaves, said Caitlyn Milton at Tomnod, part of the satellite company DigitalGlobe.
"Using high-resolution satellite imagery, we can engage a global community of online volunteers to pore over the imagery pixel by pixel," Milton told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Continuación...