Bridging the Gap-Oregon History and FUTURE
HISTORY: Bridging the Gap-Oregon (BTGO) is a long time vision of Officer Mike Gallagher. Mike has been an officer with the Portland Police Bureau for almost 29 years, with the last 10 years in the Sex Trafficking Unit. Over the years, Mike would spend countless hours tracking down resources for sexually exploited victims. He had many organizations and service providers offering to help, but had no way to effectively and efficiently communicate with them in crisis situations— such as in the evening hours or weekend— when victims are rescued. His idea was to fill the gap by communicating victim needs, in real time, to organizations that have the resources to help.
In 2014, Mike and community leaders formed Bridging the Gap and developed a private intranet website. Through the website, information was distributed immediately to approved users, who were part of a governmental agency, 501(c)(3) organization, or church, via a push notification system which allowed direct communication with one another to meet the need. In May 2015, BTG leaders were awarded the Portland Police Bureau Commendation Medal for creating the BTG website, which has provided resources for hundreds of victims.
FUTURE: BTGO is currently building a comprehensive, secure mobile app that will feature advanced technology with an integrated alert system (notifying users of urgent needs 24/7), a directory of organizations and members, resource guide, and private in app messaging for officers and victim advocates while on duty in the field. In addition to providing critical immediate exit ramps for sexually exploited and trafficked victims, there are in-app forums for community partners to post resources, job opportunities, and other services for survivors. The app will be available for both IOS and Android devices. The app will be developed to be scalable in the future with features for a mass centralized communication system for city, state and national agencies.
Current 3 year plan is to create 10 mobile apps for the cities with the highest number of human trafficking who have an established task force collaborative and follow multi-disciplinary and trauma informed standards of care. We'll also tie in rural and tribal communities in the same region as larger metropolitan cities, bridging another major gap. Future plans include utilizing the BTGO platform to provide apps for agencies who serve other vulnerable populations such as DHS for immediate placement and resources for foster care children, housing bureaus for homeless, domestic violence centers, etc.. Apps for these agencies could prevent countless vulnerable kids from falling through system gaps, often caused by lack of resources and a cohesive support system.