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The Best Way to Build is Together

Allies Against Slavery harnesses the power of technology, data, and partnerships to combat human trafficking and protect freedom and dignity. Collaboration is part of our DNA and fundamental to our mission. With a small yet mighty staff, partnerships enable us to scale our capacity and expertise, and are critical to our success. Here we feature our technology partnership with AnnieCannons, as we approach our one-year anniversary working together.

AnnieCannons transforms survivors of human trafficking and gender-based violence into software engineers and entrepreneurs. They develop software that makes a direct positive impact on the lives of marginalized people. We could not have imagined a more synergistic partner with whom to build the Lighthouse data initiative, a statewide platform to combat human trafficking in Texas. 
We began our partnership with AnnieCannons in the fall of 2019, when we were awarded a grant from the Office of the Texas Governor Child Sex Trafficking Team (CSTT) to build a system to analyze and visualize human trafficking data. We were seeking a partner with deep technical expertise, a proven track-record, and a nimble and collaborative team. With AnnieCannons we got so much more, as they are steeped in the lived experiences of survivors. We share common values and a mutual commitment to protect freedom and dignity. And so the journey began.
We started by collaborating with AnnieCannons and the CSTT to synthesize requirements from stakeholders into a collection of “user stories” – narratives that the data could tell about human trafficking in Texas. Those stories were translated into design concepts and wire frames, then working code. In parallel, AnnieCannons developed a robust, scalable back-end architecture and data model to ingest and analyze de-identified data from multiple disparate sources, rendering it into sophisticated visualizations. They integrated this new platform with our existing Lighthouse infrastructure, enabling real-time authentication and data sharing between the two systems. AnnieCannons brought rigor to the process, from project planning to iterative design and development to production. They were flexible and responsive with Allies, as we solicited user feedback and gained more insight into the field’s needs throughout the project. With the strength of the partnership growing, we also engaged AnnieCannons to support ongoing maintenance of the existing Lighthouse platform.
Throughout this time, we built camaraderie and trust as a team. We worked virtually together (from Oakland to Austin to Brooklyn to road trips), with a memorable in-person design session in Austin right before the pandemic grounded everyone – thankfully COVID-19 did not disrupt the project. We met each others’ loved ones and pets (cats, dogs, and chickens!) in the backgrounds of our screens, and developed a close working rhythm together.  
As we launch the Lighthouse data platform and reflect on the past year, we are so grateful for our partnership with AnnieCannons and their stellar leadership – Laura Hackney, CTO and co-founder, Grace McCants, director of product, and Jessica Hubley, CEO and co-founder. Our gratitude extends to their talented staff and team of developers, whose imprints on the product and insights as survivors is incredibly valuable.
Learn more about AnnieCannons, their impact, and how to support their mission here. Watch this space as we launch the Lighthouse data initiative in October! 
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