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HTCDS Introduction

The Human Trafficking Case Data Standard (HTCDS) is a global format and common approach to collecting and recording case data related to human trafficking. The standard will enable organizations around the world to collect and potentially share information related to human trafficking cases in a consistent way. The HTCDS is intended to be a reference for organizations handling cases related to human trafficking, technology service providers and independent software vendors (ISVs).

Over the last few years, case management technology has become increasingly affordable and accessible to small and large organizations supporting victims on the front line. Systems range from spreadsheet databases through to more sophisticated relational database systems supporting workflows and advanced security models. Some case management systems are operated as business services and others as independent systems. Without open data standards there is a risk that a growing ecosystem of systems and services diverge in terms of definitions and data designs. This could preclude future efforts to enable process-centric integration (such as case referral solutions), and analyse data in aggregate.


The primary motivations behind HTCDS are:

  1. Provide common definitions and language describing important aspects of trafficking case data. This will enable more precise comparisons across datasets and geographic regions, as well as helping professionals and leaders describe situations using common language and terminology.
  2. Support interoperability and data exchange between systems, services and organizations. This includes process-centric integration as well as aggregate data analysis such as that provided by the Collaborative Trafficking Data Collaborative (CTDC).
  3. Unlocking innovation by encouraging technology organisations to develop new systems and services based upon the standard.
  4. Reduce the costs associated with developing case management systems by providing tools to accelerate the development of systems based upon the standard.

Open Data Standards

The HTCDS standard intends to support the major principles behind open data standards. These are described fully in the OpenStand resource ( and referenced in ODI’s open standards guidance. For the terms of use of the site, please see here.

Human trafficking and case management varies widely across geographies, organizations and contexts. Although the primary sponsor of this standard is IOM, the future success of the standard will require collaboration and contributions from a range of organizations, including technology companies, NGOs, and academia. As with other open data standards, the HTCDS is a voluntary standard whose success will depend upon a community developing and implementing the standard so that it remains relevant and useful.

A principle of the HTCDS is that the standard remains as agnostic as possible to the technical solution selected by organizations for implementation. This is to ensure organizations have the broadest range of technology options available, but also to ensure the standard does not preclude new technological advancements developed in the future. More information is # provided in the “implementation” section of this standard.

HTCDS Toolkit

The HTCDS Toolkit is a growing collection of tools on popular platforms which aim to accelerate the implementation of the HTCDS standard. The toolkit implements the current version of HTCDS.

You can also learn more about how to manage victim case data in a complementary e-learning course. It is available for free, self-paced, and developed in line with the HTCDS.

How Do I Start?

This respository contains several reference documents as well as field standards.

  • Read this document!
  • Read the high level Guidance.
  • Download the HTCDS Field Reference spreadsheet which describes the main fields. The columns in the spreadsheet are described in the HTCDS Field Column Reference.
  • Read the toolkit guidance to see if any of these tools can help you implement HTCDS more quickly.
  • Data Sensitivity: For information on how to create synthetic datasets that have the same statistical properties as the original sensitive datasets, please see (here).

The HTCDS is not intended to fully describe all of the elements necessary in a case management system. However, it does offer useful ways to describe many aspects of case data relevant to human trafficking. Whether you are building a spreadsheet or a more sophisticated relational database these standards should be a useful reference.


This initiative was funded by The Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS) under a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of GFEMS or the United States Department of State.