VANGUARD aims to strengthen the fight against trafficking in human beings (THB) at the nexus of advanced technological solutions, understanding, awareness raising, and training to disrupt the trafficking chain at an early stage and address the culture of impunity. It aims to provide an improved intelligence picture of THB, with particular focus on THB for purposes of sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, and forced criminality. This will be achieved through developing a modular and trustworthy suite of tools for detecting, identifying, investigating, and preventing online-facilitated THB activities and THB-related activities at (border) checkpoints based on the analysis of online multimedia content and multimodal streams, by leveraging the latest advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI). It will also address the societal dimensions of THB through improved understanding and engagement with relevant actors, improved strategies of international cooperation, increased awareness, and better evidence-based policymaking. The capacity of end users (including Police and Border Guard Authorities) will be further enhanced and will enable them to tackle such criminal activities in an effective manner based on advanced tools and solutions and on innovative training curricula. VANGUARD will be validated in field tests and demonstrations in three operational use cases. Extensive training, hands-on experience, joint exercises, and training material will boost the uptake of VANGUARD tools and technologies.
MKLab is the Coordinator of the project VANGUARD, being also responsible for the scientific and security management, as well as for the Data management and Data Protection Impact Assessment of the project. Parallel to the general management and coordination, MKLab has a critical role in the project by leading a Work Package on Trustworthy Intelligent Decision Support, Knowledge Sharing, and Serious Games, where it is responsible for developing (i) a multimodal data fusion framework aiming to combine and correlate multimodal data and information for investigative and intelligence purposes, as well as (ii) AI-based predictive analytics and risk assessment tools, allowing the assessment of potential risks to ultimately support decision-making and prevent further THB related criminal activities. Moreover, MKLab will also develop AI-based tools for the analysis of audiovisual content from online material in order to achieve its effective geo-localisation based on relevant visual cues thus assisting THB investigations through the identification of the depicted locations.