The Power of Open Data: Ending Child Labor in the Digital Age
Thirteen-year-old Qusai was about to enter the sixth grade when the conflict in his hometown of Homs, Syria, caused him to drop out of school, flee with his family to Jordan, and spend his days sifting through scrap on the street to survive. While in school, Qusai had dreamed of being an engineer or a doctor. Now he says, “We work because we need to, we need the money…. Where do we get rent from if we do not work?”
Around the world, 168 million children like Qusai are involved in child labor, working instead of learning. At least 21 million children and adults are in forced labor. Finding a solution to these problems continues to be one of the world’s most pressing challenges. Overcoming this challenge will require new ideas, new ways of thinking, and innovative solutions.
The Labor Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) publishes three flagship reports that raise awareness about child labor and forced labor, Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor; List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor; and List of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor. ILAB also has just released a new mobile app called Sweat & Toil to make over 1,000 pages of data on these problems more accessible. Now ILAB is making the source data open and available to everyone. What can you do to help #EndChildLabor?
The ILAB datasets contain summaries of countries’ efforts to eliminate child labor; statistics on child labor; information on goods produced with child labor or forced labor; information on laws countries have adopted and international conventions they have ratified related to child labor; and suggested actions governments can take to end child labor.
Developers can use this data in their own applications, data visualizations and mashups with other datasets, while data scientists can use it to fuel further research. This tool will help ILAB amplify and maximize the impact of the actions it is already taking to address child labor and forced labor. But ILAB doesn’t have all the answers. Transformative change can come from anywhere. We’re excited to see how you will make a difference.
The API & The App
Through its API, the Labor Department is opening the gates to ILAB’s massive reservoir of data on child and forced labor. Code from the Sweat & Toil app is also open source, enabling developers to understand how we use the API for our needs. By making this information on child labor and forced labor available and sharing our code, ILAB is fulfilling the promise of the Obama administration’s Open Government Initiative to make more data readily available and useful to the public.