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Forget selfies. Use your phone to fight trafficking instead

The next time you spot a child begging on the streets, click a picture and load it on Helping Faceless, an app that will try to either locate his family or an NGO to rehabilitate him. Launched earlier this year, the app uses face recognition technology (similar to Facebook’s Deep Face) and other algorithms to search its extensive database—with lists and photos of missing people, including children, obtained from various NGOs, police stations, child shelters and orphanages. Aimed at combatting human trafficking, it has tied up with two NGOs thus far—Society for Children (SOCH) and O.Y.E.

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Though its face recognition technology is limited to the age group of 10-20 for now, Shashank Singh, one of the founders, assures, “We are planning to extend it to cover older people,” adding that they are recruiting volunteers (over 1,000 at present) to spread the word and update their database. Last month, they introduced a new feature that provides real-time alerts to users about missing children. “Whenever we come across a missing person report, we immediately send out a notification,” explains Singh, elaborating, “We are also planning to extend this service to disaster management programmes.”

While there is a similar app in the US, launched by the Homeland Security Investigation division of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Singh says he is not aware of any other similar app operating in the country. With offices in Mumbai and Bangalore, the app already has around 5,000 downloads and has been able to help three children until now. Available for free, for Android. Details: helpingfaceless.com


—Karan Pillai


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