UNT Alumnus Lisa Mercer Creates App to Report Human Trafficking Incidents

 Keith Owens, Lisa Mercer ('15 M.F.A.) and Michael Gibson. (Photo by Michael Clements)Design research graduate Lisa Mercer ('15 M.F.A.) created the smartphone app Operation Compass to help people report incidents of human trafficking, especially truck drivers hesitant to share crimes they witness with authorities. Mercer was invited to be a keynote speaker at a design research conference hosted by the Swiss Design Network in January and has been invited to present her research at the international conference of the Design Research Society in June in Brighton, England.

Her research continues to evolve through work with Mosaic Family Services, a Dallas-Fort Worth nonprofit that serves as a haven for survivors of human rights abuses, including human trafficking and domestic violence. Mosaic case managers follow up on incidents reported by users of Operation Compass, reporting to law enforcement or providing shelter, counseling or legal services.

Mercer created the app as part of her M.F.A. thesis and with the help of Keith Owens and Michael Gibson, associate professors of communication design. Her next goal is to compile a database to collect and sort incidents so agencies can coordinate efforts.

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