At Merkle Aquila, we firmly believe in giving back to society. We actively support charities through our philanthropic contributions, and as part of our Giving Back Crowd, we run several initiatives aimed, for example, at encouraging environmental responsibility and motivating young students for a career in STEM-related fields.

But we wanted to go above and beyond in our mission to give back- we felt there was more we could offer.

As a trusted advisor to some of the biggest companies in the world, we leverage our strengths in data-science and strategy to help our clients make better evidence-based decisions, and truly believe we can do the same for charities. Non-profit organisations often don’t have access to best-in-class analytics and strategic counsel, and as a market leader in this field, we wanted to address the gap.

So early in 2018, a bunch of passionate Aquilans approached the Leadership team with a proposal to partner with a charity for a pro-bono initiative through which we could share our deep expertise in advanced analytics.

Ambition and drive are always encouraged at Merkle Aquila, so our Leadership team not only heard us out but are working alongside in our endeavour to make a difference. They had one ask – that our pro-bono work lives up to the same high standards as any of our client engagements.

The first challenge was to identify a suitable charity partner, one that shared our ambition of unlocking the power of data to address a pressing issue, and would enable us to have a lasting impact. STOP THE TRAFFIK (STT), a global charity pioneering the cause of intelligence-led prevention of human trafficking, ticked all these boxes.

It wasn’t long before we were up-and-running – what was merely a dream a few months earlier, was quickly becoming a reality!

Through this pro bono initiative, we are helping STT better understand important trends in human trafficking, as well as improve their marketing effectiveness, by:

  • Leveraging open-source social media data available through APIs and advanced data visualisation tools to create an interactive dashboard that monitors trends in relevant keywords and hashtags, as well as gauges the wider sentiment around human trafficking. This helps STT better understand reach, engagement and the overall impact of their campaign activities in different geographies.
  • Building STT’s capabilities in data visualisation tools by upskilling their employees.
  • Helping STT extract more value from data they capture on trafficking incidents. As a first step, we’ve shared our best practices in structuring data, and automated the data cleaning process.
  • Helping STT be one step ahead in the fight against human trafficking – With STT gaining access to even richer data through their automatic collection initiatives, we aim to create actionable insights to further improve their understanding of key trends in trafficking e.g. high-risk geographic locations and vulnerable groups. We have also identified additional open source data that STT can leverage.

For those of us involved in the initiative, the partnership has been hugely satisfying personally, and we have found that donating skills can be an excellent way to learn new ones.

All of us here at Merkle Aquila believe that if you want to see change, then you must be that change. If you share our ambition and drive and would like to work with a like-minded community of talented Data Scientists, have a look at our current opportunities. To know more about how STOP THE TRAFFIK is systematically disrupting human trafficking, read about their work here.

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