The Problem

Human trafficking is the business of stealing freedom for profit. In some cases, traffickers trick, defraud or physically force victims into selling sex. In others, victims are lied to, assaulted, threatened or manipulated into working under inhumane, illegal or otherwise unacceptable conditions. It is a multi-billion dollar industry that continues to grow.  Airports are regularly a transit point for traffickers to move their victims between locations within the country or across international borders. How might we reimagine the physical and digital touchpoints in transportation hubs (e.g., airports) to raise public awareness of human trafficking?

UX Researcher, UX Designer
Jan 2023 - May 2023
Qualtrics, Figma, Miro
Druti Naik

The Solution

Informed by thorough research, we recognized the challenge designing for airports presents: people traveling often have varying levels of knowledge about human trafficking and limited attention spans. To address this, we designed a suite of micro-interactions, both physical and digital, woven into the airport experience. These interactions offer bite-sized pieces of information about human trafficking that operate independently of each other, ultimately contributing to a broader awareness campaign aimed at combating this pressing global concern.


Our research began with an exploratory phase, involving a literature review and competitive analysis. Our second phase of research engaged real users and stakeholders as we sought to understand their needs, behaviors, habits, and attitudes through interviews.  

Literature Review

To get a better understanding of the context we were designing for, we began with a comprehensive literature review. We specifically were looking to identify existing human trafficking awareness measures (both in and out of the airport), any notable statistics around human trafficking, as well as common misconceptions.

Comparative Analysis

We conducted a comparative analysis with 5 digital public awareness campaigns to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each. These campaigns were not explicitly linked to human trafficking, but our aim was to take insights from their effectiveness that could be carried over to our own solutions.

Show Detailed Analysis

From our analysis we learned:

  1. Campaigns should provide culturally adapted messaging to the general public. One campaign we looked at from TrueCaller put a spin on a common cultural phrase in India to alert users about scam calls. This was very effective in garnering awareness in the population.
  2. Real faces or real stories lead to a stronger connection with the target audience.
  3. Campaigns, particularly those around sensitive topics, should integrate an opportunity for users to ask questions and receive answers. Our solution should provide an opportunity for users to learn more about human trafficking. Layla, a chatbot geared towards young women, provides a platform for users to anonymously ask questions about social and personal topics.
  4. Campaigns should provide the target audience with the opportunity to take action. For human trafficking, this may look like integrating easy access to the human trafficking hotline.

Formal Observation

After completing our secondary research, we conducted a formal observation session at the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. With this session our goals were to address the following research questions:

  1. What existing interventions and measures are in place at Hartsfield-Jackson to address human trafficking?
  2. What physical and digital touchpoints are available for us to make use of? Which touchpoints are the most highly viewed
  3. What is the general behavior of travelers at different checkpoints in the airport?
  4. Where are travelers generally waiting in line? Where do people seem to be looking around the most?

From this session, we made four key observations:

Interviews with Stakeholders and Users

Our observation session informed our knowledge of the general public's behaviors, but we wanted to understand their current knowledge and attitudes toward human trafficking. We conducted 13 semi-structured interviews with travelers of varying backgrounds between the ages of 19 and 54.

Questions stemmed from three major themes: 

Though general travelers were our target users, we wanted to ensure we learned from stakeholder groups that directly grapple with the issue of human trafficking (e.g. human trafficking survivors, advocacy groups) to gain more nuanced perspectives. Stakeholder interviews allowed us to put survivors’ needs first, and to understand the issues that advocacy groups and airline employees face. Our identified stakeholders were: 

We conducted semi-structured interviews with members of each stakeholder group to ensure insights from each group were captured in our final design.

Qualitative Analysis & Key Findings

Qualitative analysis of our stakeholder and user interviews was done through affinity mapping.

With the affinity map, we were able to generate several insights based on user data. The following are 3 key findings from our interviews.


Design Requirements & Brainstorming

Based on our key research findings, we established 6 design requirements to guide our brainstorming and ensure a user-centric solution.

Final Solution

With our synthesized design requirements in mind, we collaborated with product designers on the Delta team to brainstorm potential solutions. A common theme that arose through our brainstorming was "micro-interactions."  We recognized that our problem statement could not be solved with just a single exhibit or display. Instead, we designed a suite of solutions that follows travelers throughout their airport journey, from curb to gate. Each solution functioned independently of the others, but collectively built awareness on human trafficking.


Due to resource limitations and project constraints, we could not fully simulate the airport environment to evaluate all five micro-interactions together. As a result, some solutions were evaluated independently. When possible, we evaluated solutions using naturalistic observation methods paired with interviews and surveys. With our evaluations, our goal was to understand how each solution met our research findings, and supported users in developing their knowledge around human trafficking.

The following discusses the evaluation methods used and resulting findings for each solution.

Rideshare Partnership

For the evaluation of the rideshare partnership popup, we conducted think-aloud usability testing with 8 users. Evaluation questions centered around the general usability of the flow, the likelihood of interaction when in a rideshare, and the information gleaned from this interaction.

Results from the evaluation of rideshare partnership pointed to 4 key findings, highlighting the optimal moments for engagement with such a pop up, as well as the need for stronger UX writing.

Parallel Reality

When evaluating the Parallel Reality intervention, we simulated the experience of viewing personalized information on a screen. Participants were shown tailored information around human trafficking on a screen and were asked questions around privacy concerns and the impact on their likelihood of interaction, and the information gleaned from the interaction.

Generally, participants found the intervention to be eye-catching and memorable due to the personalized information. However, implementation of this intervention will take longer as this technology is still being developed to use on a larger scale.

Mythbusting Video

The Mythbusting Video is a solution that requires little active engagement. By placing it around airport food stalls and gates, we anticipated people would most often watch as they waited in line. For testing, we therefore wanted to replicate a similar scenario, allowing users to learn about human trafficking as they passed by. Making use of the Georgia Tech Media Bridge, which displays digital content for pedestrians to view as they pass under, we broadcast the mythbusting video with an attached QR code for passersby to scan for more information. The video integrated a subtle glitch to catch passersby' attention. To collect feedback, we conducted in-person interviews of passersby observed to be looking at the video. Feedback questions focused on the impact on user's understanding of human trafficking and the likelihood of watching.

While participants found the video to be eye-catching, some found the facts to be too simple, with the video restating information they were already aware of. Additionally, users voiced the need for a stronger call to action integrated into the signage.

Redesigned Sign

Because the redesigned sign was meant to replace existing airport signs in bathrooms and terminals, we chose to test by placing signs within bathroom stalls across campus. Attached to each sign was a QR code linked to a feedback survey. Survey questions focused on the comprehensibility, memorability, and novelty of information provided on the sign.

Findings highlighted the importance of graphics within the sign, as well as the memorability of the information provided on the sign.

Smart Mirror

To evaluate the smart mirror, we collected feedback through think-aloud user feedback sessions to evaluate how our prototype satisfied these design requirements. Feedback questions centered around the general usability of the flow, the likelihood of interaction in an airport, and the information gleaned from this interaction.

The smart mirror received primarily positive feedback from participants, however findings pointed to the need for additional considerations to further refine the interaction, such as directional speakers, eye-catching visuals around the exhibit,  and specific action items for users to contribute to human trafficking awareness.

Overall Findings

Based on feedback from each intervention, we summarized the overall findings. Future iterations should consider the following findings when refining and adding new interactions.

  1. Participants had the strongest positive reactions to the smart mirror, Parallel Reality, and the myth busting. These interventions served different purposes - some drew on user's emotions to build empathy with real survivor stories (smart mirror), while others provided information to raise awareness in the general public. A combination of interventions is needed to build awareness among a diverse audience.
  2. What is considered obvious information to one participant or individual might be novel to another. Interventions should therefore provide a breadth of information around human trafficking, allowing users with different levels of knowledge on human trafficking to learn something new.
  3. Personality and background strongly influences which interventions people will interact with and whether they interact at all. Engagement with each interaction was strongly dependent on the level of stress individuals experience at the airport.
  4. Stronger calls to action should be integrated within each intervention. While the smart mirror, bathroom signs, and rideshare partnership contained calls to action, participants wanted to see similar calls to action across all interventions. Participants want to see suggested actions they can take to help prevent human trafficking.

Future Directions

Due to time restrictions on the project and the expansive nature of the problem space, much of the team's focus was on conducting exploratory research upfront. Future iterations of this project should focus on experimenting with different modalities, ensuring accessibility of each interaction, developing interactions of greater depth, and conducting expert evaluations.


Preventing human trafficking is a large and often obscure problem space, with few being considered "experts" on the industry. This project thus presented a big challenge. Along the way, I learned a couple of key lessons.

Human trafficking is complex! - It took us much longer to orient ourselves to the problem space than we expected. No one is an expert but many people have important perspectives. Immersing ourselves in the problem space meant interacting with different stakeholder groups, and prioritizing the viewpoints of survivors of human trafficking.

One solution will often not fit all - When having a diverse group of users such as “the general public” or “travelers”, one solution or one journey through the airport does not encapsulate most perspectives. Solutions need to be built to incorporate as many perspectives and experiences as possible. Leaning on multiple micro-interactions throughout the airport allowed us to diversify our solutions and target a larger pool of users.

Opt for depth over breadth - Initially we were targeting 7 designs. However, with time restrictions, we chose to cut down our solutions to 5. This, however, led to less time dedicated to each solution, for both designing and evaluating. Tackling a smaller number of solutions with greater detali could therefore lead to a more impactful outcome.