A mobile application called Apprise Audit has been found to improve worker audits and detect forced labour practices that commonly victimise migrant workers, according to a report by The Mekong Club and the UN University Institute on Computing and Society (UNU-CS).
The report shows the use of Apprise Audit, developed by UNU-CS and The Mekong Club, helped improve the effectiveness of the worker interview process during social compliance audits.
The mobile app offers an audio questionnaire in several languages, captures worker feedback and offers a real-time summary to the auditor while they are performing the audit.
Data is saved on the content management system and can be analysed by companies to better understand working conditions in manufacturing facilities, including detecting potential forced labour indicators.
"Talking to workers is one of the most critical aspects of social audits," said Silvia Mera, programme director at The Mekong Club, an anti-trafficking NGO that engages and educates corporations on the topic of forced labour in global supply chains.
"Through Apprise Audit we aim to enhance this important process. Our pilot demonstrated that workers, especially migrants and women, felt more comfortable sharing sensitive information through tech rather than talking to an auditor."
The report overviews the use of the app over the last 15 months, detailing its successes. The report also includes feedback from workers and auditors who have used the app during the pilot, and shows that Apprise Audit helps enhance workers' voices, improves auditors' work and facilitates data collection and analysis of working conditions in global supply chains.
"Apprise Audit was developed to be used by workers to raise concerns when there is someone immediately available to address them," said Hannah Thinyane, principal research fellow at UNU-CS, a UN research institute. "The app is used by an auditor, but keeps the worker in the process. We can easily roll out Apprise in areas where workers do not have phones of their own."