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Teamwork gets things moving quickly for STOP THE TRAFFIK Group partnership

Teamwork gets things moving quickly for STOP THE TRAFFIK Group partnership

Illustration of three fists raised in protest
A Thoughtworks-STOP THE TRAFFIK Group (STT) partnership has strengthened STT's capabilities to help disrupt the global scourge of human trafficking. What's more, it's involved Thoughtworks and STT developers in a richly collaborative experience that's helped make the pro bono initiative a win-win all round.


STT is a UK-based not-for-profit that supports the wider global movement to build resilient communities to disrupt and prevent human trafficking. It takes an innovative, intelligence-led approach to reduce the traffickers' ability to recruit vulnerable people, prevent traffickers moving the proceeds of crime through the financial systems, and help businesses identify and reduce human trafficking/modern slavery risk. Through its unique 360˚ data-informed view, STT aims to squeeze the criminal businesses involved to zero profit


It all happens with an app

Central to STT's data-gathering strategy is its STOP app that enables anyone to report activity anonymously and securely by sending messages and uploading photos and videos of behavior they consider to be suspicious. This information is fed directly into a secure area, where it's analysed and where appropriate investigated, as well as providing insights that contribute to a better understanding of human trafficking activity globally. 

Collaborative from the get-go


With an initial focus on improving the infrastructure of the STOP app, Thoughtworkers with experience in system design, infrastructure and pipeline automation came together in full partnership with STT's internal development team through pair programming, stand-ups and showcases.


Thoughtworks paired with our STOP APP's front-end developer to help us enhance and protect the back end from a security perspective. Not only did we interact with incredibly talented individuals, but our STOP APP received a health check with much-improved functionality and security
Tina Salvage
Head of data and tech, STOP THE TRAFFIK

Following this successful first phase, the team’s focus turned to the app's scalability, introducing automation to the deployment processes using AWS Code Deploy and Code Pipelines. As a result, the team simplified the deployment process from six to two steps,  enabling changes to go from implementation to production in seven minutes. 



By taking a fresh route and moving The STOP App to AWS Elastic Beanstalk, the project teams enabled a more agile, recoverable and cost efficient infrastructure that's simpler to maintain. Beanstalk meant developers could now shift their focus to writing code and take advantage of many AWS cloud benefits including easy roll-back functionality, monitoring dashboards and health checks. And there was further upside: the process of evaluating the right solution had created documentation for STT developers to use as they evolve the infrastructure of other applications.


Both work phases resulted in STT becoming safer and better equipped to continue its fight against human trafficking and – critically – make the funding of its work more attractive to donors and contractors.        


We started out with an insecure tech stack, manual deployments, and difficult-to-maintain infrastructure. Thoughtworks have transformed our time to market for enhancements and refactored our back-end codebase – creating an easy-to-maintain and secure infrastructure. Thoughtworks colleagues also took the time to enable the professional growth of others by knowledge sharing and celebrating curiosity. Leaving us with an incredible opportunity for the future state of our STOP APP.
Tina Salvage
Head of data and tech, STOP THE TRAFFIK

Doing more together

Listening and dialogue were central to the project from the start, with an STT developer embedded in Thoughtworks' team to develop hands-on technical experience and enable self-sufficiency into the future. The goals clearly embraced evolving a built-in security mindset and leveraging industry best practices, supported by an improved back-end code base and test coverage. But they were also all about enabling the developers' professional growth, celebrating curiosity and facilitating knowledge-sharing.


Victoria Demina, software developer at Thoughtworks, sums up how the STT project was satisfying to be involved with on multiple levels:


"It was great to be a part of the team who are keen to adapt all Thoughtworks’ best practices in their day-to-day work. I had a chance to drive technological choices, apply AWS skills and CI/CD industry standards. I am very proud to be part of a community who uses modern tech to stop human trafficking, empowering STT developers with a robust and secure infrastructure to continue developing such an important service."


Collaboration to improve STT's STOP app, enhance its infrastructure and automation processes, and empower its developers with new skills may only have taken ten weeks, but it has transformed the charity's capabilities to tackle human trafficking in the years ahead.


Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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