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Using Predictive Analytics To Slow Heroin Epidemic

data charts
Ann Thompson
Data from the Hamilton County Health Department on heroin overdoes will soon help researchers at the University of Cincinnati will help predict drug overdoses.

The Hamilton County Heroin Coalition will use a quarter of a new $400,000 federal grant to predict who might be the next overdose victim and get them into treatment before it happens.

Quick Response Teams (QRT) arrive on the scene after an addict has overdosed and revived. They try to get the victim into treatment. Soon those teams will have information about the victim's friends in order to stop the next overdose.

Former Cincinnati Police Captain Dan Gerard, now with the University of Cincinnati's Institute for Crime Science, says drug addicts are networked. Now part of the coalition, his team will give the data analytics to QRTs.

"There's a small number of places that are driving the overdoses and we also know that the addicts are networked. They are linked. They are trying to find who's got the best dope. They are sharing various techniques on how to acquire it," Gerard said.

The QRTs will visit the first-degree friends in the network of the particular person who overdoses and let them know their friend overdosed and what treatment options are available.

"We can run it through some algorithms and take a look and identify both the people who are most likely to overdose and also more importantly some of the pro-social people as well," Gerard said.

The predictive analytics will start in the next several weeks.

With the rest of the $400,000 Department of Justice grant, Hamilton County will designate $200,000 to programming and $100,000 to support staff.

This year, the Hamilton County will spend $1.4 million to fund treatment education programs and a 32-bed "recovery pod" at the county jail to reduce inmate relapse after release.

With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.