No 1 About Project

San Diego is one of the most active hubs for sex trafficking and illegal sex buying in the United States. Brought together  by PCI (Project Concern International), a colleague and myself volunteered a week of our time to run a design sprint at the Google San Diego campus to create solutions around decreasing the illegal sex buying in the larger area.

This project brought together a truly cross-functional team, and even included a visit from the district attorney of San Diego to hear about our work. We worked closely with advocates, police officers, and experts in the space to understand and create concepts to reduce the demand side of illegal sex buying.

No 2 The Process

One of the most impactful things we did during the sprint was to create an end-to-end journey of a sex buyer. This initially seemed like a challenge, because these people are not easy to locate and interview, so we worked with experts to help us construct a massive journey map that spanned from pre-exposure all the way to two paths: intervention and stopping or repeat illegal sex buying to a criminal level. From this timeline we were able to organize and understand what opportunities we could think about in terms of interventions and solutions – it was a critical jumping off point.

Mapping the journey of an illegal sex buyer

During the middle of the sprint, we spent an evening observing sex-buying interventions firsthand with experts posting decoy ads online. We were able to see what sex buyers say and do, and their actual behaviors at their ‘point of purchase’. We got to understand that there is no one singular sex buyer, and that some of them actually want to stop, but don’t feel like they can and admit they need help.

We were inspired to think about the early warning signs and triggers that contribute to becoming a repeat buyer

We ended up creating several solutions, but one solution really stood out. During our interviews with police officers, we heard that they were extremely busy and had a hard time combing through reports of illegal sex buyers and understanding which offenders were the worst. We proposed a red-yellow-green rating system for offenders that we could use to generate reports for police officers to better target their efforts for arrests. Combined with the information gleaned from intervention calls, a digestible one-pager could be produced, highlighting the worst offenders in the area (and in some cases, even pointing directly to their addresses, as well as proof of their intent to purchase illegal sex).

No 3 Roles

  • Design Sprint Co-Facilitator
  • Program Design

No 4 Testimony

“  I still reference everything we learned during the experience. It was truly a game changer!.”

— Sr. Program Manager, Human Trafficking Prevention, PCI (Project Concern International)

No 5 Results

The expert team loved the information gleaned from the journey map so much, that they brought it to their next annual meetup to share with the larger community of advocates.

No 6 More Projects